My German friend's US Visa expires, and he plans to travel to Canada, where he does not need a Visa. However, he has overstayed in the past, and so I suspect he has a high change of being refused admission into Canada despite being on the Visa-exempt list. There have been similar questions that for most countries say that he would be taken to a detention centre, who would figure out where he's admissible, and take him to that country. I would like to know what would happen if this happens on the US side, vs. on the Canadian side. Examples of per-country policies from previous posts:

  • U.K. detention centre

  • France detention centre

  • Germany detention centre

  • Estonia detention centre

  • Saudi Arabia holds you right there at the border crossing

  • Thailand allows you to come back to the country as if you never left it

  • Brazil lets you in, but you must stay in the same city, and within 3 days either leave or request asylum

Quite notably, US, Canada, and Mexico are not on the list. Any experience?

  • The point of getting a Visa is to significantly enhance the likelihood of being admitted. Was friend not truthful on his application?
    – DTRT
    Nov 12, 2018 at 17:26
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    @Alex What is your friend’s citizenship and which Canadian visa would he have? Or do you mean his country of citizenship is on the list allowed visa-free entry?
    – Traveller
    Nov 12, 2018 at 17:28
  • @Traveller He would get a Canadian tourist Visa.
    – Alex
    Nov 12, 2018 at 17:42
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    @MichaelHampton Here is an example of someone refused entry with a valid visa: canadavisa.com/canada-immigration-discussion-board/threads/… Example reason: overstaying a Visa in the US after the Canadian Visa was issued. Since the US Visa was valid when the Canadian one was issued, a Canadian 3-year Visa was issued; however, then the person overstayed the US Visa, and so Canada can deny him even though his Canadian Visa is still valid.
    – Alex
    Nov 12, 2018 at 19:30
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    He can reenter the US without a visa or ESTA, but it's still down to the CBP officer on the day: help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1132/~/…
    – Sam_Butler
    Nov 12, 2018 at 20:33

1 Answer 1


A person entering Canada at a land border (with the US, of course) would simply be returned to the US. There is no requirement for detention. An exception would be if the person claimed asylum at the border crossing. Canada does have immigration detention centres, subject to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act 2001.

In the United States, visas and entry clearance can have different expiry dates. Assuming the referenced expiry means that the person is no longer permitted to remain in the country (known as "out of status"), should US immigration authorities become aware, the deportation process may include detention at an ICE detention center.

If a person was already in Canada and attempted to cross the land border into the US without valid immigration status, they would be refused entry and returned to Canada.

Though the information is unverified, this forum thread suggests that Canadian immigration officials will ask about an overstay in the US. An overstay in Canada, as the OP points out, is likely to affect any future application for entry clearance to Canada, even if a visa is not normally required.

  • I didn't include Mexico in the answer above, perhaps it can be edited when there's some more information. Certainly if you try to enter the US having overstayed, they'll apply a ban right there on the spot and send you back out the door, into Mexico. As far as I understand, you don't re-clear immigration on your way back, but this is only based on documentary footage, which doesn't always tell the whole story. I have seen that entering Canada by road, if denied entry, there's a loop back to the US side with no further checks.
    – Sam_Butler
    Nov 12, 2018 at 20:14
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    The part "with no further checks" is false, e.g. travel.stackexchange.com/questions/109183/…. I've been denied entry into Canada myself, and essentially what happened is, the Canadian border patrol walks me to the US side, to make sure that I get admitted into the US. I skip past all the cars waiting in line. He tells his US counterpart that they refused entry, and the US agent takes my passport, checks to make sure I'm in status, and no further checks (eg. baggage, declarations) were done after that.
    – Alex
    Nov 12, 2018 at 20:33
  • As I mentioned, this was only based on documentary footage I have viewed, and your personal experience clearly trumps that. So there are some hoops to jump through, but for the most part there would be no issues if in status. Another reason why travelling on the day of expiry would be a bad idea.
    – Sam_Butler
    Nov 12, 2018 at 20:44

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