Sorry in advance for the lengthy post.
I'm an American citizen who spends most of my time outside of the United States traveling for fun. I've never had a problem and I have no criminal history. I've never overstayed a visa. I own a business with employees that allows me to work from anywhere. As a result, I don't have a permanent residence anywhere and I very rarely need to be in the United States for work.
A couple weeks ago I drove to Canada for the first time to go skiing in Whistler. I had a couple boxes of unused ammunition in the car from a recent visit to a gun range (but no gun). My plan was to give the ammunition to the US border exit gate before I reached the Canadian entry gate.
Well, there's no US exit gate - it's just the Canadian entry gate. I declared the ammunition, the Canadians searched my car, and they found a marijuana vaporizer with two cartridges of oil and a small tin of coffee beans. Marijuana is legal in all the western coastal states and I had forgotten it was in my car.
Anyway, they turned me away at the border because:
- They found drugs
- I couldn't provide proof of permanent residency in the USA
- I had too much stuff in my car for my intended length of stay (I said two weeks because I was going to come back to visit family in Seattle)
The Canadian officer told me the primary reason for entry denial was the lack of permanent residency.
The Canadians put a seven year flag on my passport for the drugs which means I'll be searched every single time I try to enter. The USA guys searched me on my way back and confiscated the ammunition and they have on record that the Canadians found marijuana.
The very next day I signed an apartment lease in Seattle, printed off all my current bank statements, cleaned out the car, left some stuff behind at the new apartment, and entered Canada without an issue after providing all the supporting documents. The officer again reiterated that for future visits they want to see things like utility bills sent to my Seattle residence and they granted me a 2 week visa.
Will this visa denial on my record negatively affect my chances of entering other countries? The marijuana thing seems very serious to me, even though I wasn't arrested for anything.
I feel like when I answer "yes" to "have you ever been denied entry" in future entry documents to other countries I will just get an instant denial and be stuck in limbo at an airport, and this instant denial will only serve to be yet another entry denial on my record. I think that even if I manage to get into Canada a million more times in the future this one incident will haunt me forever.
I know that countries like Japan really don't like marijuana so I feel like perhaps I screwed myself really badly this time. I assume that all countries can see this visa denial in a permanent database. My passport doesn't have a denial stamp from the Canadians but I assume this doesn't mean anything - it's somewhere in a database that all countries can now see.