This is another topic that I have done some fairly extensive googling and asking others about, but do not feel yet that I have an adequate answer for.
We are cruising the Bahamas
at a very leisurely pace and loving it here. Upon check in at Great Harbor on March 1, we were given 90 days and assured it would be easy to get an extension at no cost. When our initial 90 days was about up, we visited the immigration office in Marsh Harbor, and were granted an additional 90 days until September 1. At the time, we asked the clerk at the immigration office if further extenstions were possible and were told 'no'. However, several online sources indicate that extensions up to 8 months (or 60 additional days) are possible (we are USA citizens).
We have secured what we regard to be a safe-as-can-be mooring
season and would like to remain in the area until late October, then continue cruising slowly southward. Our understanding is that our cruising permit
is good for one year - or until March 1, 2020 - so we would have to take the boat
out of the country then, or pay an additional $500 to extend the cruising permit
for an additional year. One question with regard to the criusing permit is that the permit paper itself says that it is only good for 6 months. Noonsite and several other sources online say that the six months is due to outdated forms still being in use, and the permit is indeed valid for one year. I feel pretty confident about this, but can anyone confirm?
My bigger question is how to extend our period of stay with immigration. If I apply for an additional 60 days in late August, is it likely to be granted? That would be convenient as I would hate to leave the boat
during the peak of hurricane
season. I understand that all this is at the discretion of the immigration officer on duty at the time I apply, but can anyone comment on their experience with similar situations?
Another option, of course, is to fly back to the States in August and ask for another 90 days (or possibly more) upon returning. I have been told that I could fly to the States, return as soon as the next day, and be eligible for an additional 6 to 8 months stay in the Bahamas
. Does anyone here have experience doing this? What can I reasonably expect?
Overall, what would be the best course of action to accomplish our goal of remaining mostly in the Bahamas until our cruising permit expires - or possibly longer?
I know this is getting long, but as a final note..., since the Bahamas does not seem to enforce checking out of the country, from all appearances, there is nothing really to prevent us from just showing up at a port of entry flying the Q flag and checking in as if we were just entering the Bahamas. Of course, this involves a fraud and would not be my first or even third choice, but heck, why not ask... has anyone any experience with this approach?