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zredsox

Canadian married to American; Near Daily border crossing.

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I'm writing this on behalf of my step dad as he has no idea how to proceed. He is a Canadian citizen who married my mother (a US citizen) 17 years ago. For those 17 years, he has traveled back an forth across borders 5 days a week - 2 to 4 times daily on many days. The reason is my mom works in the United States, but their primary home is in Canada. So he brings her to work Monday through Friday and heads back to Canada. Sometimes when he picks her up, they stay at "her" house in the US. Sometimes they both go back to Canada. Sometimes he drops her off at her house and goes back to Canada. It is a mixed bag.

Obviously from how I described the situation their living spaces are straddling the border.

In the last month, the border agents have been putting a lot of stress upon him and say he will be banned from entering the United States should he not have proper documentation and he should seek it.

I've looked into it as much as I can, but no situation seems to apply. He doesn't want US residency. He lives in Canada and wants to continue living there the vast majority of time. Still, he wants to be able to cross the border freely and stay in the United States when it is appropriate.

I was hoping some advice could be offered. It would seem the I-130 is the start - but I don't want him to get trapped in a legal situation where he can not cross as he is now because of pending documentation. At the same time, we need to get the ball rolling.

He is retired (not seeking work) and is married to a US citizen. He also has a son who has been a naturalized US citizen for 30 years. He has no criminal record. My Mom does not have permanent resident status in Canada.

Thanks.

Edited by zredsox

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Yeah, he really needs to properly immigrate. I'm assuming he has a Nexus pass? Proof of ties to Canada shouldn't be an issue if he owns a home there, and there are likely many other acceptable forms of proof he possesses.

Realistically, he's extremely lucky that he hasn't been banned from the U.S. And I do mean extremely. He's been skating a very thin line in terms of residency, and it's completely within a border guard's right to say, "No, I think you're living in the U.S. illegally." If it was Mexico and not Canada, this wouldn't have worked for more than a week, let alone seventeen years. I'm really stunned that he hasn't been caught on it yet.

Start the immigration proceedings a.s.a.p. He can still live in Canada, and might still be able to cross back and forth freely. If he's established a bit of a repoire with the border guards, showing them that he's started the immigration process might allay their concerns a little. Hard to say.

Good luck to him either way.


Married: 07-03-09

I-130 filed: 08-11-09

NOA1: 09-04-09

NOA2: 10-01-09

NVC received: 10-14-09

Opted In to Electronic Processing: 10-19-09

Case complete @ NVC: 11-13-09

Interview assigned: 01-22-10 (70 days between case complete and interview assignment)

Medical in Vancouver: 01-28-10

Interview @ Montreal: 03-05-10 -- APPROVED!

POE @ Blaine (Pacific Highway): 03-10-10

3000 mile drive from Vancouver to DC: 03-10-10 to 3-12-10

Green card received: 04-02-10

SSN received: 04-07-10

------------------------------------------

Mailed I-751: 12-27-11

Arrived at USCIS: 12-29-11

I-751 NOA1: 12-30-11 Check cashed: 01-04-12

Biometrics: 02-24-12

10-year GC finally approved: 12-20-12

Received 10-year GC: 01-10-13

------------------------------------------

Better to be very overprepared than even slightly underprepared!

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However, once he immigrates to the US, he must maintain US residency and if not then the whole process and GC would be revoked. So until he became a US citizen, he would then have to live and resided in the US not Canada. Which is exactly what it seems he doesn't want to do...


I'm just a wanderer in the desert winds...

Timeline

1997

Oct - Job offer in US

Nov - Received my TN-1 to be authorized to work in the US

Nov - Moved to US

1998-2001

Recieved 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th TN

2002

May - Met future wife at arts fest

Nov - Recieved 6th TN

2003

Nov - Recieved 7th TN

Jul - Our Wedding

Aug - Filed for AOS

Sep - Recieved EAD

Sep - Recieved Advanced Parole

2004

Jan - Interview, accepted for Green Card

Feb - Green Card Arrived in mail

2005

Oct - I-751 sent off

2006

Jan - 10 year Green Card accepted

Mar - 10 year Green Card arrived

Oct - Filed N-400 for Naturalization

Nov - Biometrics done

Nov - Just recieved Naturalization Interview date for Jan.

2007

Jan - Naturalization Interview Completed

Feb - Oath Letter recieved

Feb - Oath Ceremony

Feb 21 - Finally a US CITIZEN (yay)

THE END

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I'm guessing your Mom can't drive? Because I almost just feel like it would be easier for her to become a Canadian resident and for them to live in Canada and just have her commute and cross on her own everyday.

Seems a bit silly that he would go through all of the trouble to become a US greencard holder if he wants to live in Canada. Because he's just going to run into the same issues if he's crossing back and forth into Canada, maintaining a residence in Canada, but holds a US greencard. The border guards may see that as abusing the greencard system.

If he wants to get a greencard, he needs to reside in the US and become a US resident.

I'm guessing your Mom can't drive? Because I almost just feel like it would be easier for her to become a Canadian resident and for them to live in Canada and just have her commute and cross on her own everyday.

Seems a bit silly that he would go through all of the trouble to become a US greencard holder if he wants to live in Canada. Because he's just going to run into the same issues if he's crossing back and forth into Canada, maintaining a residence in Canada, but holds a US greencard. The border guards may see that as abusing the greencard system.

If he wants to get a greencard, he needs to reside in the US and become a US resident.


Removing Conditions

Sent package to VSC - 8/12/11

NOA1 - 8/16/11

Biometrics - 9/14/11

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There are so many people who live in Canada and work/go to school in the U.S.... and vice versa. There is even one town which is on both sides of the border and, until recently, they never had to worry about "crossing the border".

Neiks is one member who lives in the U.S. and works in Canada so she may have some advice for you. (She is also a CBSA Officer so that's doubly helpful.) I'd be inclined to make an appointment with the CBP at the border and speak with them. It's probably a good idea to do the same at the CBSA office. Or he/you may just want to ask the question on their site:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Canada Border Services Agency

There's no point in him applying for a U.S. Visa-to-Greencard because he does not intend giving up residency in Canada. If their primary home is in Canada then the best route seems to be Canadian residency for your Mom.

Good luck. I wonder if you wouldn't mind bringing us up-to-date on any developments also? It would be very informative.

Welcome to VJ. :)


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Thanks everyone for the informative responses.

I have a feeling that the solution they are currently leaning toward is that my mom retire in June and then seek Canadian residency. My step dad's biggest fear is that he could be banned permanently from entry - thus not being able to visit half his grandchildren who live in the United States.

Thus, the more pressing issue is how to get through the near term and that will probably include Krikit's suggestion to seek an appointment with the respective border agencies.

I appreciate the welcome and I will definitively check back in and update this thread as a clearer picture arises.

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Sounds like a good plan. In the meantime, I wouldn't worry about your step-father being banned permanently. There have to be pretty grave circumstances for that to happen. Even if he gets denied entry on one visit, there's every chance they'll let him in on the next. Read up on the following link. (Just ignore the references to the K-1 visa.) He should bring evidence of his ties to Canada with him in case he gets pulled into Secondary. Likewise, your Mom should do the same.

Visitation FAQ's


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Sounds like he needs to decide where he wants to live. And go from there.

The only real scenario that works is Dual Citizenship, but that will take time.


“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

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A development has arisen.

My step dad has been told that he might have to report to the US port of entry/exit before crossing back to Canada for the time being so that they may "gauge his intentions."

In other words, he can cross but he has to come back in a reasonable time frame (i.e. not stay, ever.) He was also told (not sure if this is true) that the Canadian port of entry is now sharing information with their across the street friends (that sounds like a shakedown to me, but he has nothing to hide so it doesn't cause worry.)

I told both of them (mom;step dad) to carry a copy of their respective house deeds from this point forward along with a few other points of information as recommended.

Unfortunately, I have a feeling that they are going to get trapped on opposite sides of the border before this is done.

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They have had a good run.


“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

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Under the circumstances, your stepfather should initiate the process for your mother to become a Canadian permanent resident now. He can do that and have her file processed at the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo. It will take a number of months before she is approved and since she is planning on retiring in June they can start this process now because it won't be done by June and they will still be able to visit. That way they will be able to provide official immigration related document that show their intent - to live permanently in Canada - and it should work in their favour to offer some reassurance to the border authorities that the two of them are pursuing legal immigration options. Your Mom has also been very lucky that she hasn't been 'caught' and denied entry to Canada as well in all of this time, especially as this is their main residence.

Both of them need to clarify their intentions, and then carry a file of information each and every time they cross the border to prove their ties to their respective countries - plus include the immigration information that indicates their intent (eg copies of their application). Both parents should include copies of your mother's immigration documents during the whole process until she officially 'lands' in Canada.

First stop is here: http://www.cic.gc.ca . Your step dad needs to look at Sponsoring a Family member to Canada. Canada is generally much more lenient for family members who are undergoing immigration to Canada with regards to visits and time spent in the country. If your Mom retires and sells her home and the immigration process is not finished, she is able to obtain a temporary resident visa at the Canadian border that will allow her to stay in Canada with legal status for 6 months, and is renewable if the processing is not finished within those 6 months.

As has been said, they are both very, very lucky that someone hasn't nailed them before this. They really have been violating the immigration laws of both countries, albeit unintentionally, by not having the proper immigration documents that allow them to live together in either country.

Tell your stepdad to get on this right away, and until they actually get something filed, make sure they both include information about the Canadian immigration process - print outs from the website, copies of the forms to fill out, things like that, in their file of documents showing ties to their home country. It at least gives some indication of their intent.

Good luck

Edited by Kathryn41
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Neiks is one member who lives in the U.S. and works in Canada so she may have some advice for you. (She is also a CBSA Officer so that's doubly helpful.) I'd be inclined to make an appointment with the CBP at the border and speak with them. It's probably a good idea to do the same at the CBSA office. Or he/you may just want to ask the question on their site:

Well, I can give my two cents. I've seen various senarios of this over the years. Basically, once a person marries it is kind of assumed that your plan is to live with your spouse, therefore you must pick a country to be both of your "residence". I have seen people go back and forth for many years and then finally (generally the US) will say enough is enough - pick a country to live in. Unfortunealty in many of the cases it seems like the US tells the Canadian spouse not to try to come back until they have started an application for immigration in either CND or US. I can only thing of one case where I have seen a husband and wife "live" in each their own country without one of them having to immigrate. That was a retired couple that spend 6 months in the south US and then 6 months in Canada. They were extremely careful that the other did not exceed more than the 6 months for either of them in the other country and kept meticulous records of their travel back and forth. I understand of the posters situation where you live in a border town and can go back and forth pretty much daily and this is where the trouble comes in as it is very hard to track the time spent in each country. I know everyone thinks there is a "big sharing" of information between the US and CND but that isn't just as easy as typing into the computer and depending on the POE they are crossing (if it is a smaller Canadain POE) then they entry and re-entry into Canada isn't necessarily tracked. I guess the short of it is if you have made the commitment to get married then you need to commit to a country that you plan on living together in. I know it's not a perfect answer but until a time comes when everyones movement is tracked down to the time and day you cross back and forth (which it's not) then the onus is still on you to ensure your not spending too much time in the other country. Hope that helps to shed some light on the situation.

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I appreciate the additional replies as they have touched on the subject outside the "normal" immigration pattern.

This issue is causing a major strain in my family. I can't see my step father of 17 years, who I consider my father. My mother can't be with her husband in the US (he picks her up on Friday and drop her off on Monday.) In the end, I've lost my father.

It is pure lunacy.

My step dad is a Canadian citizen who spends 95% of his time in Canada. He has no desire to live in the US. My Mom is a US citizen who loves spending time with her husband in Canada and loves her US Citizenship. The complicating factors are that my Mom has two sons in the US. My step dad has a dual citizen son in the US. He also has a daughter in Canada.

I am confused as to why this is so challenging.

I live in Maine. I could basically spit across the border. Why do we have these antiquated laws? There is no form to fill out that says, "I like to live with my wife but don't want to become an American Citizen."

It is an impossible situation.

Edited by zredsox

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I live in Maine. I could basically spit across the border. Why do we have these antiquated laws? There is no form to fill out that says, "I like to live with my wife but don't want to become an American Citizen."

It is an impossible situation.

Yeah... it is so complicated. Everyone on this forum certainly understands the stress and hardships caused by immigration laws. But just for the record, moving to the U.S from Canada (or to Canada from the U.S.), you can always retain your birth citizenship and should you not want to, never have to apply for another one. You can choose to stick with being a LPR. Good luck to your dad and his wife!


US citizen since April 2016

ROC completed April 2014

AOS from K1 completed February 2012

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