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Canada US Border Crossing

Canada US Border Crossing... you are all packed and ready to go.  You are moving to US for few months to train at one of the figure skating schools there.  

Many of your skating friends have done this move before, and you have a pretty good idea on what to expect at the border; but before you hit the road, be sure to contact United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and find out about all the requirements and obligations. 

Make sure to do your research to have all the right answers ready before you head to Canada US border crossing and when the Border Officer asks you a question.  

When you get to the border: 

You may be asked about...

Why you are going to US

Once you get to the Canada US border crossing you may be asked to explain your plans and why is it necessary for you to train in US.  It will be wise to have an official letter from your skating Federation (if you are representing another country) with you; stating the purpose of your visit, the location of your training site, who you will be training with (the name of your coach), expected training length and the person or organization responsible for payment of any bills incurred in US. 

How long do you plan or need to stay in US

Regardless of your plans or needs, you will only be allowed to stay in US for up to 6 months; and the precise time period will be decided at the point of entry by the Border Patrol officer. Do not try to dispute his decision.  You will be issued a visa (according to the purpose of your visit or stay). It is a small piece of paper stapled directly into your passport.  Do not loose it! You will need to give it back when you leave US before your allowed time expires.  

Who will be paying for all of this...

Border Services Officers need to make sure that you will not be working in US.  (Without a Work Visa, you are prohibited to work there).  Figure skating costs a lot of money, so who will be paying for your training, your food and your apartment?  

You may be asked about your family income, and any funds that you receive from your figure skating association or federation

What are you bringing with you

At the Canada US border crossing you will need a list of all the items that you are bringing with you; anything other than your clothing.  If you plan to take some of your furniture with you (and pack it into your minivan or a pickup truck), be sure to list everything.  If possible, keep the receipts of all the items that you purchased recently, so when you are ready to move back, you will not be expected to pay duty on your own furniture that you bought in Canada. 

Your housing arrangements

Your housing should be arranged before you get to US.  If that's not possible, be sure to have a hotel booked before you head over the boarder.  You should have the reservation confirmation and the address of your hotel with you, as the officer at the border may ask about it. Canada US border crossing

What else should you expect? 

Be ready to answer a lot of questions.

It's different when you show up at the border with a suitcase and a credit card, because you are going shopping for few days... but when you arrive at the border with a minivan filled with night tables, pots and pans, and bedding, that's a whole different ball game.  

Once you get to the control point, the Border Officer will ask for your passport and any supporting documents.  

He or she will ask you few questions.  Be sure to stay calm, and answer clearly and if possible with a simple yes or no.  Because the stuff in your van will most likely spill over when they open the back gate, you will be asked to move your car to the side and go inside a separate building for more questions. 

The first time we were directed to the "side", we were greeted there by four big guys in full gear, with machine guns drawn... let me tell you: that was very intimidating.  

They asked us to leave all the phones, laptops, wallets, and purses inside the car on the dashboard, leave the car unlocked and all doors wide opened.  We were invited inside the building and were allowed to take only our passports with us.  

More questions insiede

After waiting in a cold building for about an hour, we were finally called over to the attendant who had quite a few new questions he needed to ask.  

After receiving satisfying answers to all his questions (some of which he has asked several times), we were fingerprinted, our pictures were taken, we needed to pay a fee for the visa that was issued and we were on our way.  Canada US border crossing

Remember, if you need to use a washroom or go back to your car to get a shawl (because you are freezing), you need to ask for permission to use the facilities and to leave a building. 

Believe me, the filling of intimidation stays with you all the time you spend in the building and most times, you can not wait to get out of there.  

It gets easier... 

Each time you go

Every time you cross the border for the next set of "6 months", it gets easier and better, providing that you followed directions given to you the previous time. 

Always be polite, no matter what they ask you and how they ask.  They have the right and the power to turn you away.  Canada US border crossing

Make sure you know what's allowed, and what's a big no-no.  Do not be pushy when asking questions and do not show your frustration.  

Your answers should be short and clear.  If you don't understand the question, ask to have it repeated.  Smile, stay calm, say please and thank you.  

You will be just fine.  

Once you get there and the Canada US border crossing is behind you, be sure to tell us all about it!  Your story may help another skater who is planning to move to US to train for few months. So don't keep it all to yourself!  Share!  

PLEASE NOTE:  We are not the experts here.  What's on this page is just an information based on our own past experiences.  Yours may be different, more pleasant or a lot more scary.  Please, do your own research, contact the authorities, ask questions and find your answers.  Here is a good place to start and you can find more useful links at the bottom of the page.

Tell us about your Canada-US border crossing adventure

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