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I am a Canadian citizen and I have been denied from the USA in the past 2 years and last year I entered illegally and was caught and given voluntary departure, but I do not have a criminal record in the USA or Canada.

NOW - I am currently in Costa Rica and looking to fly back to Canada, and it would be ideally priced with a stop in the USA. I am not banned from entering the USA for any amount of time but CBP has said I need to present 12 consecutive months worth of pay stubs and rent receipts proving my ties to Canada. Is there any way I can take a flight from Costa Rica with a stop in the USA? Is my onward flight ticket proof enough? Or will I be turned back before boarding in the airport in Costa Rica? Is there a number I can call to ask US customs about my legal situation?

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I think you'll need to pass through immigration in the USA, collect your bags and recheck them. I don't know how they'll handle that if you're refused entry though - presumably they could put you on the next plane to Canada. I wouldn't risk it. –  Jeremy Miles Apr 23 '13 at 23:44
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I am a Canadian citizen and I have been denied from the USA in the past 2 years How did you manage that without criminal record? And given that you were caught and voluntarily departed you may not have a criminal record but you may be denied entry, since that record is available for CBP officers. –  Karlson Apr 24 '13 at 1:59
    
i was denied entry because i am a musician and CBP had reason to presume i was working in the USA, not because of any criminal issues. As i stated, i dont have a ban on my record but there is a sort of ´red flag´ attached to my passport and a condition that i have to prove ties to canada. –  lobito Apr 24 '13 at 22:24

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

For a variety of reasons, unlike most countries, there is no sterile international transit through the United States. To repeat with a footnote, there is no sterile international transit through the United States.* For a foreign traveler, even a Canadian, this is a darn good reason to avoid connecting in the U.S.

*The Transit Without Visa (TWOV) and International-to-International (ITI) programs were suspended in 2003; all passengers connecting from and to international flights must obtain a transit visa or be covered under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). If your flight is "pre-cleared," say SNN-JFK or YUL-DCA, you will be processed for health, agriculture, customs, and passport/immigration at your departing airport. Your flight into the U.S. in effect becomes a "domestic" one and your transit "domestic" as well. But Costa Rica does not have a pre-clearance treaty with the U.S., so that is besides the point.

In other words, there is no transit lounge in an airport where through passengers can wait to transfer to an outbound flight. Upon landing at your gateway airport, all passengers will disembark directly to a processing facility where they will claim their bags and go through customs and immigration procedures for entry into the United States. An immigration officer cannot just take your word that you are immediately connecting to an outbound international flight, because once you have been stamped in, you are inside the United States, and could simply leave the airport if you wanted to. So if they have cause to deny you admission to the U.S., they will deny you.

As when you are denied entry to any country, the airline that brought you there is required to fly you back to your port of embarkation on the first available flight. I do not know if you would even be allowed to use your onward ticket. So, given the risk of having your trip ruined, it seems a worthy investment to avoid connecting in the U.S. and/or to get some legal advice on removing whatever blocks there are to your admission to the U.S.

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thanks a lot for the info. I would not have been surprised if there was a little holding tank for people in transit in the massive hub airports, because many days don´t have direct flights from central america to canada. alas, i will need to spend a couple hundred dollars more to get home from here. –  lobito Apr 24 '13 at 22:20

Sorry, but you have to enter the US when you have a stopover there. That's a constant hassle for people who have connecting flights to catch there (or even just a fuelstop during which they have to deplane). They all have to go through the ESTA process (or even apply for a visum).
As a Canadian you wouldn't normally need either, but as you're blacklisted you wouldn't get approved anyway.
You could I guess call the US consulate or embassy in Costa Rica and ask, but I'm pretty sure that's the answer you'd get.

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as above - i dont have a ban on my record but there is a sort of ´red flag´ attached to my passport and a condition that i have to prove ties to canada. –  lobito Apr 24 '13 at 22:22

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