Reclassification for U.S license

Good day to everyone,

I realy hope for some support from this group.
I’m already did some research, but still have some questions open.

Small description about me: I’m deck officer working in offshore, involved in building windfarms all around Europe and UK. Have 5 years of experience as deck officer DPO. Finished Maritime School and Maritime Academy in Europe (Bachelors degrees). My current license is Chief Officer (Unlimited). DP license unlimited.

I’m considering move to the USA (at least try for green card), but I also understand in case if we are lucky I, as a seafarer will face some difficulties with marine papers…

Does anyone has any experience with it, or you know some stories of success (or not), how to get credential of my STCW documents.?
I have heard that you need to start all your studies from beginning what i can’t believe that its so complicated.

Much appreciated in advance! :slight_smile:

First thing: no matter your present license or certifications, you cannot get a U.S. officer license unless you are an American citizen. This is regardless of your green card status.


I am sure others will chime in. Others before you have asked the same questions. With the right search words like “green card”, you will find those posts. Once you get permanent resident status (green card), you can begin your journey if you are up for the task. You can apply for, and get an unlicensed rating. All the STCW courses will have to be redone. As @freighterman1 correctly stated to get an officer license, US citizenship is required.

Thanks for your replay.
Then its sounds bit unrealistic and unreasonable to change my papers… because its really sounds like it might take a long time. Better then to work abroad somewhere.
But I can’t really understand, why the U.S is doing like this with STCW documents. Its international standarts, why its not valid.
From one side I get the point about protecting their own market and employees but still, there is enough job for everyone (in my opinion).

Thanks for your reply.
Strange i saw couple of ads where was mentioned that its enough to have (green card) or legit status of yours to be in the U.S.

You don’t lose what you have but it is like starting over to work on a US Flag ship. Once citizenship is attained you can apply for the US version of the license you currently have and take that exam. As far the STCW courses go, the school/course has to have USCG approval. If not approved, and as good as they might be, the course can’t be used.

Thanks also for suggesting of using “keywords” for this question.
What I understand that theoretically i can also work for the U.S company but if their ship’s are under diferent County flag. And then later after receiving citizenship can apply already for exams for accreditation.

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Your current skill set (building wind farms) may suit you well. It remains to be seen how many of the various vessels used to build wind farms in US waters will be required to be US Flag. You don’t necessarily have to work for a US company.

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You can work with your current documents on a US flag vessel.

Good point

In what capacity?

He could work anything but master on a US Vessel equal to his license. Over seas on OSVs they take everyone off but the Master and Chief. This is mainly because local labor is dramatically cheaper.

In the States I have never heard of someone without a US license in the bridge of a US Vessel. I don’t know the legalities off the top of my head, but the blowback from inside the industry would be bad.

As far as I recall, US Flag vessels- regardless of location- must have U.S. Licensed Officers holding US MMC’s.

There are exceptions during time of National Emergency- where a waiver is granted- but not usually as Master or C/E. I have been aboard a US Flag vessel where we had a West German national who was our 2nd Asst Engr (and he was an exceptional engineer)- but he could only ride to the first US Port- then Visa processes and etc were required- this was pre STCW during Gulf War I.

The CFR plainly states that ALL US credentialed Officers MUST be citizens.

Not on any vessel, just OSVs operating from a foreign port see 46 CFR 15.720
and 46 USC 8103.

With exceptions, see the regulation and statute cited above.


Got to hand it to the OSV lobby, they get some good carve outs.

And the crappy part is when a FF vessel working on the shelf for an oil company they don’t put Americans on board.

That’s more the oil companies doing then the OSV companies.

So the below quote is wrong, minus unique exception.

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I have been very aware of the OSV exception for years which is why I said what I did.

Yes you can, but only on OSV working outside US waters. Nothing new, it has been like that for more than 50-60 years.

PS> You can also work on foreign flag vessels in US waters, or anywhere else in the world.
As you know they don’t ALL pay “slave wages”, or have “no benefits”.

OSV is not found in your comment. Original poster would’ve thought he can work on any US flag vessel, or maybe “a US flag vessel”, but you didn’t specify OSV only.

“That 3/4” wrench will work in the engine room"
…cadet comes back saying 3/4" doesn’t fit
“Oh, that 3/4” wrench only works for 3/4" bolts in the engine room"

I am very aware of this.