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I'm a 30 year-old Indian living in Canada since 2013. I have a 10-year visitor visa to the US expiring in 2019 and a pending green card application (through my dad who’s a citizen since 2015).

So far, I’ve visited the US over 50 times (as I live right on the border and cross over often by land for shopping/visiting places across the border) without any problems. Ive only been denied once (in 2016) when I was trying to visit dad on the opposite coast for 3+ months after my graduation, carrying all my stuff with me as I hadn’t renewed my lease and had no return ticket. I didn't want to fly home to India for another few months after my US trip before starting a job life in Canada.

However, last year, I got a job at a call centre (my first in Canada) and a rented apartment, and I've been crossing over to the US several times without issues again.

I quit this job in October 2017 to fly back to India for 2-3 months to visit family, attend my nephew’s first birthday and a few weddings, etc. Llater I took care of my mom aftrt her hysterectomy surgery that had to be done urgently 2 weeks ago. We were supposed to fly back together end of January to the US to visit my dad, after which I would fly back to Canada alone 3-4 weeks later.

I was already skeptical about US immigration allowing me entry, due to being jobless again and parents being citizen/GC holders in the US but thought that Canadian lease papers, bank statements, recently-received Canadian PR card and accompanying a slightly-handicapped mom would support my case... But now, I have this problem:

My apartment lease is dated April 1, 2017-March 31, 2018. If I flew to the US as planned in January, I would be flying to Canada in February and still be able to show that my lease hasn't expired. However, if I fly to the US mid-March and show an intent to return to Canada sometime in April, the officers would have no reason to believe my lease was renewed. All I'll have is a return ticket and Canadian bank statements besides this lease.

Will this lease still count as proof of residence even if I'm going to pay month-to-month after the first 12 months? My lease agreement states “If neither Tenant nor Landlord delivers notice of termination of the other, then upon the expiration of the term, the Tenant shall become a monthly tenant only. As a month to month tenant, Tenant agreed to vacate premises upon receiving 60 days written notice from the Landlord.” I’ll be paying March rent to my landlord by bank transfer next week.

I have ZERO intention of staying in the US. It’s just that it’s impossible to visit my dad for a longer period if I’m working, so this seems like the perfect time to visit him for a month. I don’t even know if a lease is strong enough proof anyway but as far as I know, a job isn’t necessary to prove ties either because when I was denied earlier, they gave me a checklist of documents I needed to carry on my next attempt to visit the US and the IO hadn’t put a checkmark on PROOF OF EMPLOYMENT. All that was mentioned was PROOF OF RESIDENCE, FINANCES and RETURN TICKET.

What can I possibly do about this dilemma? I really want to visit my father. Any advice is highly appreciated! Thank you!

  • You can try, and the result is up in the air. – user 56513 Feb 22 '18 at 18:55
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1) Your green card application: I had asked this to my lawyer and she answered the following: if you haven't applied for I-485 (change of status) yet, then technically you haven't shown immigrant intent. However, if the CBP officer can see that you have a pending/approved I-140 (immigrant petition), he/she can make a judgement call, and then it all comes down to his/her leniency. There are other factors that can affect this decision as stated below.

EDIT: I'm not 100% sure if they can see your current applications to USCIS (see link below). But I've heard from everyone that they do.

2) Your earlier entry denial: Why were you denied entry? Is that because the officer thought you did not plan to go back or your papers were incorrect? If you have traveled after that denial to US, and you haven't been banned from entering the US for 5 year or anything, then it likely won't affect your next entry. However the officer can see your earlier entries and denials so you may be taken to secondary questioning and/or denied entry. Again it comes down to the leniency of the officer(s) who question you.

3) Canadian PR: You have a Canadian PR, but you also have applied for US GC. The US CBP officers are usually not interested in your Canadian PR. Maybe it might prove you have ties to Canada so you can make your case to return, but then you also have applied for GC. The CBP officers might weight these two facts against each other.

4) Your job/lease/return ticket: If you had a ongoing job or a lease in Canada, or return ticket, that will certainly work in your favor if they take you to secondary.

5) Traveling with your mom: If you do get questioned, it might work in your favor if you describe the whole surgery situation to the officer. Your mom shouldn't have a problem since she has a GC. But you should carry all papers for the surgery so you can prove your are telling the truth, if secondary questioning if required. It again comes down to how understanding the officer is.

6) Traveling from India to US: In the end it's your decision, but if I were in your position, I'd spend some extra money and first fly to Canada, and then take a connection to US. Your mom is a US Citizen and you have a Canadian PR, so going to Canada should be a piece of cake and Canadian CBSA is a lot more lenient. Once you are in Canada, you can try to clear the CBP pre-clearance, eg. at Toronto Pearson. That way if you do get denied, atleast you're not sent back to India from US. In my experience US preclearance in Toronto have been much more quicker and friendlier than US CBP at PoE, say NYC. Also I haven't heard horror stories about Canada Preclearance, as I have about, say, JFK PoE.

EDIT: I had earlier assumed she is a US citizen but she has a GC. But that shouldn't be a problem as she doesn't need visa for Canada (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?qnum=593&top=16)

Your situation is too complicated and there's a small chance that the officer will look at all your history and may cause problems. You've to weigh all these things and take a calculated risk.

Some additional info: https://www.quora.com/What-kinds-of-information-is-on-a-CBP-officers-computer-at-a-port-of-entry

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    "as I presume she is a US citizen": the question title notes that she is a green card holder, therefore not a US citizen, but also obviously without any need to show a lack of immigrant intent. – phoog Mar 6 '18 at 17:48
  • sorry missed that – AVJ Mar 6 '18 at 17:59
  • My nephew was once asked by a CBP officer if he had ever applied to immigrate to the US, answered "no" and was reamed out because the officer knew his father had made an unsuccessful DV lottery application for him about a decade before. I think records of pretty much every customs- and immigration-related interaction you have with US agencies, including USCIS and DoS, are available to the CBP, so it is a safe bet they'll know about the I-140. – Dennis Mar 7 '18 at 18:38
  • Thanks for the input Dennis. Yes I won't be surprised if they could see records of everything. – AVJ Mar 8 '18 at 19:40

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