Monday, July 27, 2009

Sigh of Relief

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.


KfromMichigan said...

For some reason immigration officers scare me. And women officers are the worst when I cross the border going to Windsor. I try to always get a man.

Anonymous said...

We (USA) are definatly going to have to tighten up our borders:-))
sorry for the inconvenience Sue. It's a crazy world anymore.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we need to secure our borders so we can keep out all the dangerous people trying to get in legally just so they can work. Meanwhile, the criminals are coming in through unwatched tunnels and across our deserts & mountains.

jeanie said...

Glad you got it done Sue. I totally agree with K, women officers are the worst! I have always lived on the border and every nightmare border story involves a Canadian Female Officer. A little bit of power and a badge seems to go to the head.

Bennie said...

Sue you know just how much I dread immigration officers when crossing borders for business. I can't imagine having to do this every year like you do.

I agree honesty is the best policy.

I have always made it through but not always without feeling uncomfortable like I'm being sent home or doing something wrong.

Sue said...

K and Jeanie - I agree that women officers are tougher than males, for the most part. Not sure why, but I would rather deal with a male officer myself. They have the booths darkened now when you drive across so you can't tell, but in the airports I always go to a male line if there is a choice.

Carl - Yes, that's how I felt when I sat and watched parades of people, some looking like they might not be of the best character, get their documents and I get the third-degree. I understand why they are careful with my type though - want to make sure I'm legit and fall into the NAFTA category of professions in high demand (with proper credentials).

Anon - Sort of doesn't make a lot of sense, does it? But they have special officers to protect your country from people trying to get in to work and take American jobs, so that is their focus. I understand, just don't look forward to the process every single year. (now they have a 3-year TN, so if it works out I'll go for that next year).

Bennie - I know that sometimes they give us a hard time even when we have the proper documents. In your case you're dealing with Canadian Immigration. It's always hard on the nerves even when you know you're not doing anything wrong and you tell the truth.

life insurance broker said...

Immigration officers indeed are scary. Glad it worked out for you.
What I am curious about is whether you (as a person living in Mexico) needed visa or not to visit Canada.

Regards, Lorne.

Sue said...

Welcome to my blog, Lorne - thanks for visiting. To answer your question, the visa requirement is for Mexican citizens, regardless of where they live in the world. I am a Canadian citizen so have no requirements imposed on me to enter Canada simply because I live in Mexico. Unfortunately, now Miguel needs a visa just to visit for a week or so. What a pain trying to get all the paperwork together.