Longshore Act Question 16

Does the Longshore Act apply only to U.S. citizens?

It’s time to look at another of our Top Ten Longshore Act questions. Last time I had to decide whether to pick an easy one or a difficult one. Of course, I picked an easy one. But looking down the list, I see that there are some real challenges waiting to be addressed. It will not be easy to answer some of the questions in a coherent, but brief, manner.

But we are determined to complete the answers to all the questions on the list. As Cecil B. De Mille said (maybe) when he was told that his movie was getting too long: “What do you want me to do? Stop shooting and call it The Five Commandments”?

We are committed to completion.

So after all that, let’s look at another easy one.

Number 16 – Does the Longshore Act apply only to U.S. citizens?

Answer – No.

Section 902(3) of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act defines an employee as “any person” who meets the status requirement for coverage. There is no citizenship or nationality reference.

Section 3(a) of the Act provides that the Act applies “upon the navigable waters of the United States”; but this situs provision does not require United States citizenship or residency.

There is a provision in the Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act that requires U.S. citizenship or permanent residency for NAFI employees outside the continental United States.

And there is a provision of the Defense Base Act that provides for commutation of compensation due and payable to aliens and nonnationals of the United States who are not residents of the United States or Canada. The definition of surviving dependent in the Defense Base Act also has a residency component.

But as far as the Longshore Act is concerned, an employee must meet the status and situs requirements for coverage, but there is no citizenship or residency requirement for coverage.

NOTE: Presumably this indicates that an illegal alien working in maritime employment upon the navigable waters of the United States is covered by the Longshore Act.

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