DHS, DOS create annotated B1 visa to allow foreign workers to apply for TWIC

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced Wednesday that they have created an annotated version of the B1 visa that will make foreign maritime workers eligible to apply for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).

According to a statement issued by DHS, the Transportation Security Administration published a TWIC final rule in January 2007 allowing non-citizens who meet one of the agency’s eligible immigration categories to apply for a TWIC. Following input from the maritime industry, DHS and the State Department created a process for those who fall in the B1 visa category (foreign citizens entering the U.S. for business purposes) to acquire a TWIC.

Under the process, workers requiring a TWIC need to notify the DOS upon applying for a B1 visa and also provide a letter from their employer stating that the individual will be required to perform work in secure areas. After receiving the TWIC-annotated B1 visa, each individual will apply separately for a TWIC, according to the DHS. This process will apply to the 4,000 to 6,000 foreign workers in U.S. ports. As with all visa and TWIC applicants, DHS says these foreign workers will undergo background checks, which include checks against the terrorist watch list, criminal histories, as well as immigration records.

"Strengthening the security of our maritime global supply chain is critical to protecting our nation from evolving threats," said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. "This new TWIC process is a critical step toward ensuring that foreign maritime workers can quickly and efficiently obtain the necessary credentials to do their jobs and help grow the American economy."