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U.S. immigration rules cause confusion for Canadian vendor

Although there have been no formal changes to the requirements for visitors from British Columbia or other Canadian regions who want to travel across the border, everyone undergoes a higher level of scrutiny than before. The U.S. immigration control at the border recently caused an owner of a Canadian business significant losses. Her experience underscores the need for seeking legal counsel when planning a trip south of the border.

The owner of a small business — who had travelled to and from the U.S. many times — registered as a vendor at a two-day yarn festival in the United States where she planned to sell her products. An employee and some relatives accompanied her. She claims her planning for the trip included obtaining information about required travel documents from a U.S. immigration enquiry phone line, and she used a customs broker to assist with the necessary paperwork to allow her to trade at the event.

However, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials denied them entry, claiming they needed an E-2 Treaty Investor visa, which would provide the appropriate work authorization. The woman claims that the visa is not applicable because it is for those who want to establish a business in the United States that would involve substantial investment and be providing employment for Americans.

The woman further claims the expenses related to her research, registration fees for the event, travelling and accommodation deposits, along with the cost of the raw materials for the product she intended to sell, totalled about $25,000. This is a significant loss for a small business. British Columbia residents who are planning trips across the border might avoid similar U.S. immigration experiences by seeking the support and guidance of a lawyer who is experienced in dealing with travel plans and documents for Canadians travelling to the United States.