Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

    How Do You Start Off with a Doctor’s Visit in Canada and End Up with a Lifetime Ban From the USA – How Did THAT Happen?! – Part Two

    Three years have passed since the incident on the border of Canada and the USA  that started out as an innocent intention to spend a couple of hours shopping after a doctor’s appointment and ended up with being held by US Border Patrol and lead to the threat of their family’s petition for Green Card being denied.

    Jai and his family hadn’t stepped foot in the USA since that momentous day on the border of Canada and the US state line. However, since then, they had welcomed into the world their new son. Carl, now 1 year old, had never been introduced to his paternal grandparents and it seemed the family’s petition was still in the system, so Jai decided to fly his son to the USA to meet his relatives.

    The day he flew, he knew he would have a pit-stop in Belgium, giving the two of them time to freshen up before the longest part of their trip. They got off the plane at Brussels, had a bite to eat, changed the baby’s diaper and clothes and waited by the gate for their flight to be called. Now, although Jai had lived in England for many years, his English was still very broken. He could, however, understand when they announced his connecting flight. He and the other passengers began to line up at the boarding gate. When Jai and his son arrived at the gate, the guard noticed something relating back to the incident at the Canadian-US border that appeared when Jai’s passport had been scanned. He told Jai of his findings and suggested they return to the UK to get this sorted. Jai acknowledged the warning, but explained as best he could that this was a simple error that he could clear up upon his arrival in the US.

    The flight was long and the baby was getting quite restless- Jai didn’t realize how hard it would be to travel with a one year old by himself. The flight attendant handed out the Visa Waiver forms, but Jai placed his in his jacket as he couldn’t understand it, and was a little too embarrassed to ask for help. He thought he would complete it once they had landed after talking to someone (if he really needed to) about the incident flagged at customs.

    They touched down and headed towards Immigration. As he approached the desk, he was fumbling around for his ID whilst trying to calm down his very fractious son. When he got to the desk, he was asked for the completed waiver form. He tried to explain in his broken English that he had not understood the form and needed help. The man at the desk told him that he needed to have that form filled in before getting to that point.

    Once again, Jai said he didn’t understand. A fellow passenger could see how distressed Jai and his son were getting, let alone the guy at customs, so he offered to help. The passenger quickly went down the list and put all the ticks in what he thought were all the right places. Jai returned to the desk, after waiting at the back of the line, until the last person had gone through. The officer looked over the visa waiver form and addressed Jai’s focus to the question that asks, ‘Have you ever been denied access to the USA?’ Jai wanted to explain but told the officer, “Yes, but simple mistake.” By this time this little scene was gaining some attention from other officers. Jai’s son was becoming more and more distressed, as was Jai. Once again Jai tried to explain. “Sir, little mistake in Canada. We went shopping and were told we could not, and asked returned to Canada and is over, yes?”

    The officer asked who they were meeting and Jai told them that he was bringing his son to meet his grandparents. The officer explained that the son could be collected but the father was to be held for further questioning, so Jai had to hand his son off to the boy’s aunt whom the child had never met before.

    Jai was held overnight for questioning. It was decided that he was to return to England the very next morning. He was then told he would need to go back to the US Embassy in London, where, in order to travel into the USA, he would need to request a visa. Jai’s sister returned to the airport in the morning where she got to see her brother for a few moments whilst returning his son to him. Jai was led to the plane in handcuffs whilst an attendant carried his son.

    Twelve hours later, they arrived on UK soil, where he had to re-live his experience once more as he tried to understand for himself, as well as explain to his wife who met him at the airport,  what had unfolded in the previous twenty-four hours. 

    This story continues…

    The moral of this chapter is, “If in doubt – DON’T GO!”  Ignorance plays no part in law. Immigration lives by the same rule. The fact that Jai thought everything was okay obviously didn’t mean it would be. Unfortunately, this incident not only caused him distress but also, his innocent child was terribly upset by the whole ordeal.  Yes, their story continues to take a further downward spiral, so stay tuned to find out what happened next.

    Note to reader: US Immigration is a hard nut to crack. You need professionals on your side. Even something as simple as a B2 Visa is a lot harder to obtain nowadays. You can thank 9/11 for many of the issues surrounding various lengthy applications, but Immigration is getting picky. Even for the F1 student visa, every single one of your ducks need to be in a row – college selected, course chosen, accommodation sorted and money in the bank to prove you won’t be tempted to work illegaly. Marriage visas, although deemed one of the easiest,  are actually one of the hardest. Every application that lands in front of an Immigration Officer is considered fraudulent before opening the front cover. They really do perceive you as guilty first, so let us prove your innocence so that you can continue, or even attain, your ‘American Dream.’

    ECI

    US Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
    Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
    Admitted in New York.
    Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
    401 Wilshire, 12th Floor
    Santa Monica,
    California 90401
    Tel: 310 496 4292