Vancouver Immigration And Cross-Border Injury Law Blog

US immigration options for living and working across the border

British Columbia residents who are considering employment or studies in the United States might have many questions about the available visa options that offer paths into U.S. work and study facilities. Several changes have occurred in U.S. Immigration requirements in recent years, and preference is given to highly skilled and talented people. The H-1B visa program allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers with bachelor's or higher education in specialized fields as temporary employees. A certain number of these visas are made available each year, and they are allocated through a first-come, first-serve process.

For those Canadians who want to study in the United States, the F-1 visa is available. Students pursuing U.S college degrees can apply, and this includes doctoral, master's, bachelor's and associate degrees. Those who want to stay on and gain practical experience can apply for Optional Practical Training approvals. These differ from H-1B visas in that employer sponsorship is not necessary, but they are only valid for 12 months with extensions allowed for a maximum of 36 months for those with technology, science, math or engineering degrees.

Who is at risk to suffer cross-border personal injury?

Although the primary cause of deaths in Canada is automobile accidents, many of these happen south of the border. British Columbia drivers who travel to Seattle or other U.S. cities are as vulnerable there than here in their home country. However, dealing with the consequences of cross-border personal injury damages is significantly more complicated, not to mention the emotional trauma suffered by the victims or surviving loved ones of those who lost their lives.

Authorities say young drivers are involved in 25 percent of all auto collisions in Canada, even though they only represent 13 percent of all Canadian licensed drivers. This makes young drivers between ages 16 and 24 at the highest risk of all age groups of losing their lives in crashes. They also say that across all age groups, females are at a lower risk of crash involvement than males are, and other high-risk groups include seniors with compromised health and medical conditions, such as heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and other cognitive disorders.

Tips to prevent issues with US immigration during border crossing

Although the United States government's issues with illegal border crossings might be primarily focused on its borders with another country, Canadian citizens are often unprepared for the harsh treatment by border officials. Even those whose documents are in perfect order and in compliance with U.S. immigration laws might have a tough time. Taking some precautionary steps might ease the border crossing process for travellers from British Columbia and other provinces and territories.

Cellphone issues can be avoided by removing any confidential information, including any references to cannabis or prescription medicines, which might not be approved in the U.S. before reaching the border post. Travellers cannot be forced to unlock their phones, in which cases, their phones might be confiscated and returned to the owner upon his or her return to Canada. It might also be wise to clean the car and remove litter, clutter and prohibited food products. This will make it easier for border agents to search the vehicle.

Vancouver driver suffers cross-border personal injury in crash

Many Vancouver residents make frequent trips into the United States for various reasons, often forgetting the fact that they are travelling into another country with different laws and insurance providers. Only when they are involved in an accident, do they realize how complicated cross-border personal injury cases can be. While the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia provides benefits regardless of who was at fault, will it cover accidents that happen south of the border?

An example of such a case involves an elderly British Columbia couple who were involved in a fatal crash while travelling in the United States. An accident report indicates that the 82-year-old driver encountered dense fog on a recent Saturday morning. During an attempt to pass a slower vehicle, his SUV crashed head-on into an oncoming truck that was pulling a horse trailer.

US immigration part of NEXUS applications delayed

The temporary shutdown of the United States government saw all nonessential government services put on hold until budget-related issues can be resolved. This includes some U.S. immigration services like the NEXUS program. Its purpose is to provide preapproval to holders of NEXUS cards and to streamline their border crossings thereby. Applicants typically represent frequent travellers between British Columbia and other Canadian provinces and territories and the United States.

Right now, only half of the application process for NEXUS cards can be completed. The process involves two parts, including one portion of the application that is handled by the Canada Border Services Agency and a second part that must be dealt with by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. Although there is no hold up with the CBSA process, applicants have no idea when they will be able to complete the process.

Cross-border personal injury can result from distracted driving

Whether people drive in Vancouver or Seattle while on a shopping trip, distractions will always produce threats. Even the most focused drivers can suffer the consequences of another driver's distractions. When a crash-related, cross-border personal injury occurs, insurance and legal ramifications could become overwhelming.

Distractions come in different forms, and even those that last for mere seconds can cause severe accidents. Visual distractions include all the times that a driver's eyes leave the roadway, and manual distractions involve removing the hands from the steering wheel. When it comes to cognitive distractions, the driver's attention is no longer focused on driving. In many cases, all three coincide in instances where the driver's hand is used to change the dials of the entertainment system, his or her eyes will likely also glance in that direction, and his or her mind will be focused on finding the desired music.

US immigration: How can a FAST card help commercial truckers?

Freight worth billions of dollars is transported between Canada and the United States each year. A significant percentage of the cargo is transported by road on commercial trucks. Truck drivers who travel from British Columbia to deliver or pick up loads might have questions about the frequent border crossings and the U.S. immigration laws that might affect or even benefit them.

British Columbia truckers who obtain a FAST North card can save time and money when they cross the border into Washington State -- in both directions. Holding a FAST card will ensure quick processing of the cargo at the border crossing. To be eligible for such a pass, the entire supply chain with which the driver deals must be members of the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism.

US Immigration: What happens to data downloaded by border agents?

British Columbia residents who travel across the border into the United States might not realize that border control officials could search their phones and laptops. Under the U.S. Immigration laws, it is perfectly legal to carry out such searches. The Border Doctrine even allows agents to download the data from the electronic devices of travellers and then scan the downloaded data for breaches of national security.

Border agents need no reasonable suspicion, probable cause or even a warrant to carry out manual searches on the phones and laptops of people who enter the U.S. If they then find reasons to suspect incriminating or security threatening data to exist on a phone, they are entitled to transfer the data onto a storage device for further scrutiny. But what happens to that data once it turns out to be non-threatening to national security?

Pedestrians face risks of cross-border personal injury

Pedestrians in Vancouver must always be more careful once winter weather sets in, and that also applies to those who take trips to Washington State. Although Seattle's average snowfall is not exceptionally high, cold spells with ice and heavy snowfalls do occur. Cars could strike pedestrians, or slip-and-fall accidents could happen at any time, and if the victim is a British Columbia resident, cross-border personal injury claims could be challenging.

Fewer daylight hours and adverse weather limit visibility, which increases the chances of being struck while crossing the street or slipping on an icy patch on the sidewalk. Safety authorities advise pedestrians to wear bright and reflective clothing along with suitable footwear that poses limited fall risks. They say pedestrians should avoid using cell phones while walking, and make eye contact with vehicle drivers before crossing the road at intersections and crosswalks; they should also avoid jaywalking.

US immigration laws might deny Canadians of green cards

Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) has introduced an amendment that will likely be alarming to business executives and managers, IT workers, and even snowbirds in British Columbia and other provinces and territories in Canada. The proposed amendment intends to change the current U.S. immigration cap for employment visas per country to a system of first-come-first-serve. Such a bill would have high-skilled workers waiting for years to obtain a visa or a green card.

The amendment will affect the EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 green card categories. According to the State Department, Canada was allocated 4,757 immigration visas in these three categories in 2017. Some analysts reckon that the Yoder amendment would cause the first year's number to drop by 77 percent, the second year 85 percent and almost zero for a significant period after that. The analysts also say that Canadian applicants with extraordinary abilities, multinational managers and outstanding professors who seek EB-1 visas would almost immediately be excluded for an indefinite period.

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