Immigrant intent and ties to Canada

Every alien applying for admission to the United States at a port of entry is presumed to be an intending immigrant until the alien can establish that he or she is entitled to non-immigrant status (INA 214(b)). Intending immigrants who do not possess a valid immigrant visa are inadmissible to the United States (INA 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I)). To rebut the presumption of immigrant intent, a traveler must be able to demonstrate sufficient ‘ties’ to his or her home country. For Canadians applying for admission to the US as visitors U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) provides the following guidance:

The burden of proof that the Canadian citizen is not an intended immigrant (plans to make the U.S. their primary residence) is always on the applicant. There is no set period of time Canadians must wait to reenter the U.S. after the end of their stay, but if it appears to the CBP Officer that the person applying for entry is spending more time over-all in the U.S. than in Canada, it will be up to the traveler to prove to the officer that they are not de-facto U.S. residents. One of the ways to do this is demonstrate significant ties to their home country, including proof of employment, residency, etc.

Additionally, CBP provides a list of documents that may be useful in demonstrating ties to Canada. For example, CBP recommends providing recent rent receipts or mortgage payments, along with utility bills as proof of foreign residence. Utility bills should be in the traveler’s name and sent to the same residence identified in the mortgage or lease agreement because this evidence would tend to show that the traveler not only rents/owns the property, but lives there as well. As to evidence of employment, documentary evidence of the traveler’s future work schedule is a useful addition to the listed evidence.

For Canadians who only travel to the US occasionally, evidence of ties to Canada is less likely to be an issue. But, for Canadians who make frequent trips or spend a long time in the US, being prepared with evidence of their ties to Canada could save a significant amount of time when crossing the border.

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