Bending and breaking the rules depends on who knows, who cares and who has the authority to interpret and then enforce the laws if they have been broken.
So what’s all the fuss about people arriving with a yacht and leaving with the same yacht? I would say absolutely none! I’ve work on yachts all over Europe, the Asia Pacific Rim, the Americas, the Caribbean and have plenty of stamps to prove I was there for a few months and then left for the next port of call.
Having said that things can get sticky when people fly to yachting capitals and start looking for work and stay for an extended period or overstay their visa’s.
Everyone knows your supposed to arrive with one yacht and leave with the same yacht, yet people jump ship and join other vessels regularly. Captains get fresh crew, crew agents make some money, uniform suppliers sell there wares and industry wheels keep turning.
Its a chicken an egg thing with a catch. How does a greenhorn get a start without going outside their tourist visa?
Many people look for day work, even though it is not 100% legitimate. Is this a case of supply and demand? Boats continue to employ day workers and often sign them in as crew and even the strictest shipyards and marinas allow day work to occur because that is what the yachts want.
Now I’m not saying immigration laws aren't being broken by some people, but rather the rules do not match reality and the grey area which exists is not going anywhere soon because yachting is big business and the transient nature of day workers virtually assures they fly out to the next cruising destination or return to the ski fields and wherever else employers pay cash for casual workers and ask no questions.
Whenever a person is in a foreign land they are a foreigner. So what does your average maritime professional do when local authorities question them about their legitimacy and reasons for being in their country?
I typically say I am a licensed engineer working on a yacht that is docked in marina X or dry docked in shipyard Y, show them whatever papers I have and go on my way.
In my experience people with drive, persistence and skills and/or the mindset to make it on a yacht eventually get a job regardless of their nationality. During my career I would say Americans, Australians, British, New Zealanders and South Africans dominate the business.