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Travel clearance and public charge

The Manila Times logo The Manila Times 9/8/2019 CRISPIN R. ARANDA
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(Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.)

IF you are a green card holder, do you still need a visa to travel to Canada?

Conversely, if you are a permanent resident of Canada, do you need a B-1/B-2 visa to travel to the United States?

Then, if you have a US visitor visa, can you travel to Canada — by air or land — without applying for a visit visa? Similarly, if you have a Canadian temporary resident/visitor visa, would you be allowed to fly or drive across the US border?

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) explains that a B-1 or B-2 visa holder may visit Canada or Mexico for up to 30 days and re-enter the US as long as the reentry is within the period noted on the Form I-94 of the traveler on first entry into the US.

The CBP provided this example: “If you come to the US on July 10th on a B2 visitor visa, you may go to Canada and/or Mexico (provided you have the proper documentation to enter those countries) on or after December 10th, and reenter the US any time up until January 10. But because the six-month period is up on January 10, you will also have to depart from the US on that same day to avoid being an ‘overstay’ (unless you applied for an extension of stay).”

Holders of US visitor visas are referred to as non-immigrants or temporary residents.

Green signal to travel to Canada. Green card holders do not need a visit visa (also referred to as temporary resident visa) to enter Canada.

However, if the green card holder is traveling by air, an electronic travel authorization (eTA) would be required. Those traveling by rail, train, bus or boat must have their green card ready for presentation.

Permanent residents of Canada and the US are still Filipino citizens with Philippine passports. Hence, they are still foreign nationals. The only difference is that they are legal foreign nationals in Canada and the US.

A Canadian or US citizen on the other hand does not need a visa to travel to either country.

Not being required to have a visa when entering either country does not mean that one can breeze through immigration and customs.

A US lawful permanent resident may have a hold or question regarding the validity of his or her status. A Filipino landed immigrant in Canada may also have issues as to the validity and other unresolved legal snags. In both cases, a travel clearance prior to traveling is essential to avoid being refused entry.

US arrival-departure document. Foreign visitors to the US are issued the arrival and departure record, the I-94, in either paper or electronic format, by a CBP officer at the port of entry.

Since April 30, 2013, most arrival and/or departure records are created electronically upon arrival.

Instead of a paper form, the visitor is issued an annotated stamp in the foreign passport. In case a paper form is issued, “the admitting CBP officer generally attaches the I-94 to the visitor’s passport and stamps the departure date on the form.”

Generally, a B-1/B-2 visa holder is granted a six-month stay. Visitors with B-1 visas are usually allowed to stay for shorter periods — to complete the objective of the temporary business visit.

Whether an electronic I -94 or paper I-94 is issued, the visitor must exit the US on or before that date stamped on the form or in the passport.

If a visitor departs by a commercial air or sea carrier (airlines or cruise ships), their departure from the US can be independently verified and it is not necessary to take any further action, although holding on to the outbound (from the US) boarding pass — if they still have it — can help facilitate re-entry when coming back to the United States.

If a visitor departs by land and has a paper form I-94, the I-94 must be turned in to a CBP officer at a land border when exiting the US on or before the date stamped on the form. The visitor may retain the I-94 and use it for multiple entries through the duration of the period of admission indicated on the form.

However, if it is not turned in to a CBP officer at the land border by the end of the admission period, the visitor will be considered an “overstay” and they may be denied entry when they attempt to reenter the United States in the future.

Canada and the United States share the longest secure border in the world, over which almost 400,000 people and $2.6 billion worth of goods and services cross daily.

The US CBP requires “a foreign national or alien entering the US to present a passport and valid visa issued by a US consular official, unless they are a citizen of a country eligible for the visa waiver program, or are a lawful permanent resident of the US or a citizen of Canada.”

PH, Canada, US agreement

Without much fanfare and largely unnoticed by major media in the Philippines, Canada and the United States signed an agreement enabling pre-clearance procedures for travelers to and from both countries – including their accompanying baggage on certain transports.

On Aug. 15, 2019, the US Department of Homeland Security and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada announced the implementation of the agreement.

Almost 20 years earlier, Don was in the US with a single entry visa. His port of entry was San Francisco in

November 1998. He was given only three months to stay. With the help of a distant relative, he found work in a hotel. Don met Frances, a housekeeper in the same hotel who would be applying for naturalization as a US citizen in August 1999. They fell in love. Don moved in with Frances in March 1999. He did not apply for extension of his stay. He was told that since he would be marrying a US citizen later, he could still apply for adjustment of status after paying a $1,000-fine.

The hotel was acquired by a new owner. Frances was laid off. Without adequate medical insurance, she applied for state benefits for families with children. Don on the other hand applied for unemployment insurance with the help of relatives and friends.

After Frances obtained her naturalization certificate, the two got married. Don applied for adjustment of status under Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act which was extended by the US Congress on Dec. 15, 2000.

With an employment authorization document, Don found a job in a new hotel south of Market. Because his salary did not meet the federal poverty guidelines in 2000, he sought the help of a friend who could act as a joint sponsor.

While waiting for the adjustment interview, Don and Frances joined a tour to Vancouver, British Columbia believing that the work permit card he had would be enough to prove his legal status in the US.

Without a parole document to return to the US, Don was refused entry. Instead of being detained, he was told he could apply for his immigrant visa in the Philippines.

Without a joint sponsor to pursue his adjustment of status application, Don agreed. He was put on the first flight to Manila. Frances and their newborn returned to San Francisco.

After six months, Don’s file was transferred to the US Embassy in Manila. He was able to get an interview schedule. His immigrant visa application was refused on two grounds: having overstayed for more than a year, his bar was for 10 years; and public charge. Frances was still unemployed and collecting federal and state benefits both for herself and Trisha, their daughter. Both were US citizens.

Don could apply for a waiver of inadmissibility but did not know how. And he was afraid he did not have funds for the waiver. Frances was aware that attorneys in the US charge an average of $5,000 to $20,000 for a waiver case.

Responding to an ad for food service attendants in Alberta, Don was hired by a licensed Philippine Overseas Employment Administration agency and submitted his work permit at the Canadian Embassy.

He was on edge, afraid that his stay in the US would be taken against him.

Luck apparently smiled on him. Don was issued a two-year work permit. He started work in Edmonton in August 2002.

Missing Frances and Trish, Don applied for a tourist visa from Canada to the US. His application was rejected because of his previous case and pending charge of inadmissibility. He realized that Canada and the US share not only a common border, but each country’s database for admission and deportation.

Although Don’s agency contract had expired, his employer offered to rehire him. He then applied for Alberta’s Provincial Nomination Program under the entry level and semi-skilled stream as a food and beverage server.

By 2006, Don got his Canadian permanent resident card. He was able to cross the border and reunite with his family. Frances and Trish applied for their own Canadian green card, Now all of them are Canadian citizens. They can simply get a ticket and fly down to San Francisco in just over an hour.

Or drive for 18 hours through Seattle, Washington state, Portland, Oregon, through the Redwood forest, down the Silicon Valley, and enter the City by the Bay through Daly City, the Gateway to the Peninsula.

Don, Frances and Trish do not need visas, but to ensure smooth sailing though US port of entry, they applied for pre-clearance and joined the over 21 million visitors from Canada to the US.

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