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US immigration notes for travelling south of the border and back

For many Vancouver residents, trips to Seattle or other destinations in the United States are frequent occurrences. Although they might not see it as international travel, that is what it is because they cross an international border. For that reason, travellers have to comply with U.S. immigration laws when they leave Canada, and upon their return to British Columbia, the Canada Border Services Agency has a separate set of requirements.

Canadian citizens only need to obtain visas if they plan to study, work or invest in the United States, or if they are immigrating there. A valid Canadian passport will do, and for those who make such trips frequently, it might be a good idea to learn more about the Trusted Traveller Programs. Things are slightly different for who those are residents but not Canadian citizens who want to travel across the border.

Holders of permanent residency in Canada might be required to obtain a nonimmigrant visa from U.S. authorities, and making such applications well in advance is the best approach. However, this only applies if a traveller is not a citizen of a country that is a member of the Visa Waiver Program. These travellers must also show a valid passport from the countries of which they are citizens.

Upon their return to British Columbia, Canada Border Services Agency officers will only allow entry if the travellers have PR Cards to prove they have Permanent Resident Status, and this applies to adults and children. For anyone in British Columbia who has questions about the documents they will need for their trips south of the border, it might be a good idea to consult with a U.S. immigration lawyer before they finalize travel plans. A lawyer who is registered on both sides of the border might be able to simplify the process and ensure smooth border crossings.