Investigators said Kenyan national Fuwad Nassir was barely on the job two weeks when he jumped ship.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Nassir told Canadian officials he was seeking asylum.
Nassir saw a judge Thursday afternoon, but it's not clear who will prosecute this case.
It could be the Brevard or Seminole State Attorney's Office or the statewide prosecutor.
With a half-million-dollar bond, Nassir isn't likely to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Nassir was in a Brevard County courtroom Thursday, facing a charge of conspiracy to commit human smuggling after investigators said he deserted his position aboard the Carnival Liberty at Port Canaveral back in October in violation of his visa.
FDLE said he then caught a ride with an in-law who flew into Florida from Utah to pick him up and drove him to New York state, where he attempted to cross into Canada by way of the Rainbow Bridge point of entry.
Officials there refused him entry and turned Nassir over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He remained in federal detention until his return to Brevard County.
Carnival Cruise Lines officials said the company would not comment specifically on this case.