Explore U.S. immigration laws before arranging trips for minors

Travelling between Canada and the United States is not as easy as it used to be. With the many changes in the U.S. immigration laws, British Columbia residents who are arranging trips for minors to or from the United States might be best advised to explore the latest specifications. The two countries have different requirements for children to meet when they cross the border.

Children who are not yet 18 years old can only enter Canada with a valid passport or birth certificate to prove identity and citizenship. When minors who enter into Canada are tourists, they can do so without a visa. However, they may not stay for longer than 180 days. When children return to the United States from Canada, the rules are slightly different.

At that time, only those younger than 16 years may present a birth certificate -- either government-issued or a consular report if a child was born abroad. A naturalization certificate will also be accepted. However, children older than 16 years must have a passport, NEXUS card or an enhanced driver's licence -- except if the child is part of a school group, in which case a birth certificate may be used to re-enter the U.S. by sea or land.

When unaccompanied children cross the border between the two countries, they must have additional documentation. This also applies when a minor travels with only one parent. Documentation to prove that the other parent gave consent will be required, and if the accompanying parent has sole custody, documented proof to confirm that will be necessary. To avoid delays at the border, it might be wise to consult with a British Columbia lawyer before finalizing arrangements for travelling minors. A lawyer who is experienced in dealing with U.S. immigration laws can ensure the necessary documentation accompanies a child who plans to cross the border.

Source: USA Today, "Requirements for Minors Crossing the Canadian Border", Accessed on Feb. 7, 2018

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