Written by attorney William D. Fong

Exemptions from Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Citizenship Requirements

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Amendments of 1976 were enacted on

18 September 1978. 43 USC 1356 of the act directs, that with specified exceptions, all units (vessels and platforms) operating on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) must employ only American citizens or resident aliens.

I. If a vessel and its crew do not meet this U.S. manning requirement, then the vessel owner or operator must apply for a manning citizenship exemption from the Chief of the Coast Guard’s Division of Foreign and Offshore Compliance. Approval can often take 60 days or more.

Manning citizenship exemptions may be granted for:

  1. A foreign-flag, foreign-owned unit is exempt from the citizenship

requirements. Such a unit must be more than 50% owned and controlled by a

foreign citizen(s) or entity to be considered foreign owned, and the foreign owner

cannot have a subordinate relationship to anyU.S.citizen or entity.

A foreign-flag, American-owned unit may receive an exemption if the unit is under a long term

bareboat charter to a foreign citizen or corporation.

  1. A foreign-flag, American-owned unit may receive an exemption for the marine

crew from the citizenship requirements if the flag country of the unit had a

national registry manning requirement in effect before 18 September 1978 that

requires. that flag country's nationals aboard her flag units.

  1. A temporary exemption may be granted if there are not a sufficient number of

United Statescitizens or resident aliens qualified and available for work on a unit.

Congress has made the Coast Guard the agency responsible for accepting such

exemption requests and granting such exemptions if no American citizens or

resident aliens can be located for employment.

  1. The President of theUnited Statesmay grant an exemption for any position

aboard a unit if he determines that employment of American citizens or resident

aliens would not be consistent with the national interest. This exemption is

primarily envisioned for times of national emergency.

II. In addition, a position exemption designation rulings may be obtained from the local U.S. Coast Guard Officer in Charge of the Port ( usually Morgan City) if:

The employee is not “part of the regular complement of a unit." This means that the position must not be one necessary for the routine functioning of the unit, such as, marine officers and crew; industrial personnel on the unit (toolpushers, drillers, roustabouts, floor hands, crane operators, derrickmen, mechanics, motormen, general maintenance workers, and support personnel, such as cooks, stewards, and radio operators.

Positions which are not considered part of the regular complement of the unit are specialists, professionals, or other technically trained personnel called in to handle emergencies or other temporary operations; extra personnel on a unit for training; and other personnel temporarily on a unit for specialized operations, such as construction, alteration, well logging, or unusual repairs or emergencies.

Documents Required for the Manning Exemption:

  • Project scope (type of work, location and duration)
  • Vessel Information (Vessel name, Vessel type, Registry, Classification Document)
  • Contracts, Subcontracts and Charter Agreements that affect ownership or control of the vessel
  • Public Company Trading and Registration Documents for all companies in the chain of ownership
  • The identity and nationality of the parent company’s corporate president or chief executive officer *
  • The identity and nationality of the parent company’s chairman and members of the board of directors *
  • The identity and nationality of the parent company’s principal shareholders *
  • The identity and nationality of officers of companies in the chain of ownership or control*
  • A certified statement that addresses the national manning requirement found in 33 CFR 141.5(b)(3). Example: I have diligently searched the federal register and other publicly-available compilations and indices of presidential documents and I have found no statements, declarations of other communications determined, pursuant to 43 U.S.C. §1356(c)(2) that (Country Name) has implemented by statute, regulation, policy or practice a national manning requirement for equipment engaged in the exploration, development or production of oil and gas in its offshore areas.

*Denotes that the information shall be provided in affidavit form.

Documents Required for a Position Ruling:

  • Project scope (type of work, location and duration)
  • Vessel Information (name, type, Registry, Classification¸ description of specialized equipment on vessel or unit)
  • Ownership of Unit and location of work
  • Detailed description of specialist or professional position
  • Copy of passport, visa, and Form I-94, resume for foreign national to be employed
  • Educational credentials, certificates held by foreign national

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