06 Sep 2004

i hate canadian customs!

so today we went to vancouver and richmond for lunch and dinner. except we spent an hour screwing around with them trying to convince them that the US will accept me back into the country!

so the story is, my J-1 visa has expired, but the rules say i can still stay in the US for another 30 days to travel around. even without that fact, i should be able to exit the country and re-enter with a visa waiver program on my UK passport.

we got to the canadian border and then they pulled us over and wouldn't let me go through. the customs person who was talking to me just didn't want to negotiate or let me ask any questions, just kept on telling me, "you're not listening! listen to me and shut up!" so she was concerned that the US wouldn't let me back in after i entered canada. but the damn visa and passport lets me in. she wanted me to extend my visa before going in, and that was bloody crazy, because i don't need my visa extended, i want to exit the country and get back in!

so she forced me to sign this form saying i VOLUNTARILY went back to the US, except i couldn't read what the hell that said because it was printed by a screwed up dot-matrix printer. i was forced to sign the damn form anyway.

so we drove back into the US and talked to the INS people there. they were more friendly, and given that i started calling canada names, they were quite happy helping me. they insisted that i was able to return to the country (given the fact that they just let me back in from no-man's land into their warm and loving country) with my passport and expired J-1 status. however, the guy there wouldn't give me anything in writing to take back to the canadian people to prove it. so we then had to go all the way back to the canadian customs (like a short 6 minute walk to the other side of the border) and then tell them what they told me about the US letting me back in.

in pure canadian style, the customs officer didn't believe me either and then had to call up the US counterpart. luckily, this time i remembered the name of the guy who i spoke to. now he said exactly the same thing he said to me, but to the canadian brain-dead customs officer. she then tried to keep face by saying that the US customs wouldn't commit to anything that i would be admitted back into the country (yeah, because its the US rules, it's canada's problem that it doesn't know the immigration laws in US.)

so eventually, the canadians gave me this "day-pass" to go into canada where i had to prove i left the country within the specified period. i had to return this piece of paper (the token) to the canadian customs when i exited the country, and they had to observe (watch our car drive away to the other side of the border) that we left the country. the problem is, so what if i did or didn't? i don't get what the big deal is with the day pass given that i know i can get back into the US.

so they wasted like an hour and a half of our time screwing around with their brain-dead system where they don't know whether i could get back in to US. the problem is that IT ISN'T THERE F***ING PROBLEM -- it could have gone into canada for a 30 day visit without a visa anyway! what is the problem?? why are they so concerned? if the US didn't let me in, i could of always taken a flight back to cambridge if i really wanted to. its not like i'm going to weigh down the country and start a civil war!

there's even more to this saga, but i'm too damn tired to continue ..

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