The Border Crossing
This is all based on our experience and how things went for us. We were lucky. As much as we were turned around on our first attempt through the border, we were not denied entry not did any notes written by the first crossing attempt cause issues at the next/last crossing. Kevin referenced this article a lot during our drive to the border and while not all of it allied to us directly, it really helped him when it came to his private interview at Portal.
Total Time Spent: 3 hours total - 2 1/2 hours attempting to cross US side. 1/2 hour to get back into Canada
Result: Turned Back Around
Things to Note: Make sure to have all your immigration paper work and only your immigration paper work together in a folder that you are willing to hand them at their request.
Answer their questions precise, no need to elaborate, they need your life story.
Understand what the paper work is that you have with you, including your job title, position details, what type of visa you are entering under. In our case we were entering on a TN Visa as a Software Engineer. Study your immigration paper work and know exactly what your role is and why it is an engineering role.
Check all dates on every single piece of paper before traveling and have someone else check it for you. We did not know, but you are only allowed to get your visa ten days before (or after) your approval date. This is what caused us to be turned around at Portal. We were 8 days too early. If possible go to an International Airport or Border Crossing to get your visa before booking flights, hotels, etc, to save money and hassle on potential cancellations. As previously mentioned I had to cancel apartment viewings and hotel stays.
Have a printed detailed inventory list with you, if you are driving your stuff down.
Total Time Spent: 1 hour
Result: Crossed the Border!!
Things to Note: Things went much smoother here though there was still delays.
For example, I carry my small marriage certificate in my passport. This does not have all marriage details and they requested the bigger version. Luckily it was easy to access in our UHaul.
If it's possible for you to have your actually University diploma on you, keep it handy. Kevin doesn't get his until November and this caused a lot of confusion. A completion letter from the University along with transcripts was enough to get us through but did cause delays and questions.
Portage did not ask to open the UHaul or ask what we were carrying with us. Based on what we knew this is very unusual, but we aren't going to complain about it! Be prepared to have your vehicle searched, level of search may depend. Make sure to check the border crossing website for any restricted items, including food items, plants/dirt and firewood. I am very glad I gave away my house plants to good homes before we left.
If we could do it all over again what would we change?
We would drive and get that visa before even packing the Uhaul!!
Print inventory sheet, even though we didn't need it, we were really lucky. Having it would have been a really good thing, just in case.
And with that we are through to the States!! Monday's my last post! I know this has been a long process to post, but it's been a long process to get through, would love your thoughts!