B1/B2 Visa Issue
I don't believe that it's legal for international yachties on tourist visas to actively look for work, receive positions, and then fly out to the Bahamas or elsewhere to make it legit. It's a sham that ICE/INS is willing to tolerate..but it's still against US law.
Americans in the industry have to make it their civic duty and make that call to ICE in order to begin to complain about these issues. If more of us are willing to spend a little time calling agents/field control operators including senators/governor of FL /Homeland Security reps, maybe someone will start paying attention and focus on this ongoing problem. If you want a job in the yachting industry, you need to receive the job while you are in your home port....through a recruiter or by someone else.
I can not go to France on an American passport and look/receive work on land or at the dock. You dig?
There has been a growing concern in the confusion surrounding visa requirements for foreign-flagged superyacht crew members visiting South Floridian waters, which has sounded alarm bells for a number of local businesses who depend on the business brought in by the vessels visiting the area for either maintenance or cruising purposes. Each visiting megayacht / superyacht brings more than $488,000 to the region through boatyard expenditures, brokerage commissions and charter fees, contributing an estimated grand total of £372.4 million last to the region (according to a study conducted on behalf of the Marine Industries Association, the Florida Brokers Association, and the Broward Alliance).Brokers, boatyard representatives and captains have warned that the red tape surrounding crew visa regulations for foreign crew, including the length of time for the visas, could be prohibitive in attracting vessels in the future.
Many will agree that there is complete confusion by immigration officials on B1B2 visas. For example on one boat I heard about, when arriving by sea the Captain got the full 6 months. Arriving by air the new crew got 4 months and 5 months. Hardly consistent.
However if you have a legitamate reason to stay over the alloted time given (eg your yacht is having repairs) you can apply by post for an extension It costs $300 each.
You could leave the USA for the weekend and then come back but this is not recomended as I have heard of crews being refused re-entry and their visas being cancelled.
(This is paraphrased from this forum thread: http://www.synfo.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=212 )
This link provides the best synopsis of the "Crew visas for non-US flagged vessels" issues that I have found so far: