One of the reasons I came back to Canada was to get my work visa renewed for the US. I guess 'renewed' isn't the right word though, since the visa expired in February and I handed it in, thinking I wouldn't need another one until I was required to travel back to the US for work. That's what an immigration office at one of the US airports advised me and I mostly believed him.
So this morning I gathered all my necessary papers together and headed to the US border to meet with US immigration. I sat for an hour and watched numerous foreign tourists from Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Britain, and other countries come and go, all with US approval to visit. I am used to being left there for a long time as there is usually just one free-trade officer working, and I have to wait for that person to be free.
Finally I was called. The usual free-trade officer was not there (he was in a meeting, I found out later). I was interviewed by a younger officer, who was not too pleased with me at first. "Why didn't you renew?", he demanded. I told him my story, but he wasn't too happy with it and took it to a colleague where they discussed me under their breath. I sat nervously waiting for the outcome of their conversation, and they called me back and both talked to me again.
There really is no other choice than to tell the full truth, which I have always done in these situations. If I made a mistake by not renewing it was not intentional, and the reason I went to the border this morning was to make sure I was doing the right thing.
Finally it all got sorted out and they approved me, with a strong recommendation that whether I'm actually physically in the US or not, I need to have the paperwork to be approved. Now I understand and won't get myself into that situation again.
Although I dread immigration interviews, whether US, Canadian, or Mexican, I just speak honestly and answer their questions. I'm almost always treated to a friendly officer who isn't out to make my life miserable, although the last female officer greeting me in the Cancun airport was rather unfriendly. But she was the exception. My situation isn't the easiest for officers to understand, but answering their questions finally satisfies them that I'm just a normal person with a bit of an unusual life, and totally harmless.