A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Border travel tips for Columbus Day weekend

Monday, Columbus Day, is not only a U.S. holiday; it is also Thanksgiving in Canada.  As a result, it will be a very busy weekend for cross border travelers.  The following are some helpful tips for cross border travel between the United States and Canada:
- Allow extra travel time to compensate for increase in traffic throughout the long weekend. Monitor and select the checkpoints that are less congested.  Travelers can monitor current border traffic conditions by calling the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission's toll free number at (800) 715-6722 or visit the CBP.gov website.
- As usual, know the customs rules and regulations before your trip.  Check out the "Know Before You Go" section of the CBP Website.
- Travelers must have their approved travel documents available for inspection and be prepared to declare all items acquired outside of the U.S. before approaching a checkpoint.
- Beginning June 1, 2009, all travelers, including U.S. and Canadian citizens, must present an approved travel document to enter the U.S. by land and sea, as mandated by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).
- For U.S. citizens, they must present a valid Passport, U.S. Passport Card, Trusted Traveler card (NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST) or an Enhanced Driver's License.  Only children under the age of 16 may present an original or copy of their birth certificate. 
- U.S. permanent residents should present their From I-551 or "green card" upon return to the U.S.
- Temporary U.S. workers such as H1B and L1 employees must present their passports, visas (if available), Form I-94s, and approval notices issued by the USCIS. Additionally, recent pay stubs and employment verification letters may also be needed.  For foreign students, they should also bring their Form I-20s, OPT endorsements, OPT employment verification letters (if applicable), etc. 
- For non-U.S. citizens entering Canada, they should check with the Canadian Embassy to see if a visitor's visa is required.  Currently, visas are required for nationals from China, India and Taiwan (except holders of ordinary passports) to enter Canada.
- CBP strongly encourages travelers to obtain a radio frequency identification (RFID) enabled travel document such as a U.S. Passport Card, Enhanced Driver's License/Enhanced IdentificationCard, etc., to expedite their entry into the U.S. 

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