US immigration: Be prepared for taking children across the border

British Columbia parents who want to take their children along on a trip across the border will ease the process by gathering knowledge about passports and other requirements at the start of their planning. Because of the ever-increasing problem with child trafficking, parents can expect extra scrutiny and questioning by border officials. Although the preferred travel documents are passports, U.S. immigration laws allow Canadian citizens who are not older than 15 years to cross the border with certified birth certificate copies.

This applies to sea and land crossings, and children must have proof of parental consent. When a minor travels with only one parent, written permission from the other parent must accompany the child. If the parents are divorced, border officials will also want a copy of the child custody court order. The contact details of the other parent might be required if officers want to call to confirm his or her consent.

Furthermore, children who are old enough might be expected to answer some of the border control officers' questions themselves. Parents could prepare their children for the types of questions they might be asked. When children travel as members of a school group, the person in charge will have to present parental letters of consent and identification for each child in the group.

Some British Columbia residents choose to leave all the border-related issues for an experienced U.S. immigration lawyer to handle while they focus on all other aspects of their trips. A lawyer can explain what is required and assist with gathering the necessary documents. With the rapid changes to immigration laws, having a trusted source to provide up-to-date immigration advice can be invaluable.

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