I am a Canadian citizen (Pakistani origin) and I currently live in Dubai.
My father was diagnosed with cancer in October and has been undergoing treatment in the USA since then.
So, I have been frequenting the USA since October. I was there in October for 10 days, November for 10 days, and December for 30 days
This time when travelling from Dubai and entering the USA via NYC, I was asked a few questions — why I was here, I gave them the reason. I did not have printed documentation on me, but I had everything on my phone, which I showed the customs officer.
My sister lives in the city as well, however my father is not living with her and with two little children it is impossible for her to care of him her own.
He proceeded to ask me which hospital my father was at and who was paying for the treatment. I gave him the name of the hospital and told him that my father is paying for it himself.
The officer, told me that he does not care if my father is ill — that I am not a doctor, and I do not need to be in the USA. That I should go back and be with my children.
My children had come with me to the US in October and in December — which I told the officer. To which he said that they were had school holidays so I could bring them with me — and he ignored the latter and said that I am taking my children out of school to bring them all the way here.
He said that my sister is enough and that he did not care either if my sister has 2 young kids and is unable to take care of him full-time.
He then proceeded to tell me, that I can only be in the US for 2 weeks this time (I told him I was booked to leave in a week and would do so), and he then proceeded to tell me that he is putting a ban on me from coming for 3 months.
He did not take me to a separate room or anything, and just told me to leave as there were a lot of other people in the line.
The issue is that: all my family members take turns coming to care for him and I am due back for 10 days in March. In addition, with this kind of illness there is so much uncertainty and I may need to head back due to any emergency.
I have extremely strong ties to my home country (middle east), in addition to my own work, my husband has a very secure job (he is quiet senior within his company), I have two children in my home country who are enrolled in school and ability to afford my trips to the US. Also I attended university in the USA for both my undergrad and grad. I have no convictions, clean record etc.
I have also not stayed more than 6 months in a 12 month period — which is the limit applied to Canadian Citizens.
I checked my I-94 online and the exit date stated there is not 2 weeks later but 6 months later than my entry date, and there is no note stating there is a travel ban for 3 months. There is no mention on my passport stating the date of departure and the temporary 3 month travel ban. As mentioned I am not concerned about the departure date restriction for this trip but I am extremely concerned about the 3 month ban.
I am unsure as to what I should do now. Is there any way to appeal this? Can I apply for a visa, so that everything is on file?
Added from what was posted as an answer:
My brother works for one of the airlines in Dubai and one of the perks of his job is that we his family get very good rates for flights, so would rather not have to through Abu Dhabi for this reason.
If the government shutdown hasn’t affected the CBP office in NYC – do you think I should visit the prior to departure?
I am thinking: Once I get back home, I will try and speak with someone from the Consulate if I can apply for a visa – then at least I will have a chance to provide them with all my documentation and they may be able to put it into my file. Only thing, what if my visa gets rejected ? And / or Look for an immigration lawyer, I am definitely going to have to have to go back and forth for the next 6-8 months, and I just don’t want to have to stress each time.
On another note - I spoke to a friend of mine Canadian citizen, lives in UK – of South Asian descent, married with 2 young children - who visited the US (Boston), for about 7 years very frequently as her mother was being treated in Boston. And she had absolutely no problems traveling to and fro, till the time her mother had passed away. That was the only time she was scrutinized by customs. However, he did not limit her stay or threaten her with the ban.