British Columbia passport holders do not need visas to cross the border when they visit the United States. However, those with permanent resident status must apply for non-immigrant visas for such visits. It is essential to stay up to date with changing U.S. immigration laws so as to avoid being caught unawares and have unanticipated problems when crossing the border.
As from the beginning of June, immigration laws that were proposed in March 2018 came into effect. Visa applicants must provide information about all their social media activities dating back five years. Although the mandate covers only some social media services, visa applicants are encouraged to volunteer account names for other services that are not included on the form.
The information sought by officials includes phone numbers, email addresses and other non-communication information, such as any travels undertaken by applicants and their family’s involvement with any terrorist organizations. These requirements are not new for people who applied for visas after visiting areas that are known to be controlled by terrorists. However, the new regulations now include all applicants in an effort to spot those who were part of ideology discussions online, hoping to prevent incidents such as the mass shootings that have occurred in the United States.
British Columbia residents who are planning trips across the border might avoid challenging border crossings by seeking the support and guidance of an experienced U.S. immigration lawyer. Legal counsel who is registered in British Columbia and Washington state will be up to date with changing legislation. The lawyer can explain the latest laws and requirements, and assist with visa applications and preparation of the necessary documents to simplify the border crossings.