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For the purposes of this question, assume I am of a legal status which prevents me from exiting the US. If I was to identify myself to CBP, I run a high risk of being denied entry and/or having my status invalidated. I have a friend who I would like to visit, but they're unable to secure a US Visa, though they can secure a Canadian one.

My friend and I decide to meet at the Peace Arch (Washington-BC crossing), and my friend crosses over to the US side of the park, but I do not.

Would it be possible to meet this friend, exchange pleasantries, and perhaps a hug, without technically exiting the US from the eyes of US immigration? Would I have to talk to CBP when I leave the park?

  • I'll leave this is a comment not an answer as I couldn't find anything upto date - but the previous version of their website included a clear statement you'd be fine. web.archive.org/web/20120904112343/http://www.peacearchpark.org/… "You are not required to have a visa to visit the park and Monument. However, always remember your personal identification when visiting the international park." Which would mean you'd be dine. If this is still the case/why it was removed I don't know. – skifans Jun 21 at 14:58
  • That just says that you can enter the park, not whether you would exit the US in doing so. – Henrik Jun 21 at 15:38
  • The US border control station is after the park when coming from Canada, so if you enter the park, you'll probably be checked, though you might be waived through. Whether they will count your visit to the park as exiting the US or not (they probably have no way of knowing whether you just stayed in the park or actually left US territory) is anyone's guess. – jcaron Jun 21 at 16:11
  • A few other places to consider (on the other side of the continent, though): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada–United_States_border#Cross-border_buildings – jcaron Jun 21 at 16:11
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    @jcaron waved through (see Is 'waived it through' correct English? at English Language & Usage). laken: are you okay with encountering CBP (or Border Patrol) as long as you've remained in US territory as far as immigration law is concerned? I'm not sure whether this would make a difference, but it might. – phoog Jun 21 at 16:56
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In a comment, you've noted that the question concerns someone with a pending asylum application.

The US will consider the asylum application abandoned if the applicant leaves the US without advance parole. The solution therefore is to get advance parole.

Since this is a legal technicality, the only way to know whether going to the park without advance parole will be considered departing the US is to look at policy statements by the US government, if there are any, and judicial precedent, if there is any. That is a matter for an immigration lawyer. I am not a lawyer, but I suspect that it is not clear whether this would imperil the asylum application. If it is unclear, I suppose that most lawyers would advise against it.

Visiting the park could imperil the application whether or not the person will encounter an immigration check in connection with the visit. If an officer observes the person stepping across the boundary, that could by itself result in the application being considered abandoned. It could also be that the government would place the burden of proof on the person who visited the park to show that he or she did not cross the boundary. If the asylum applicant does visit the park, it would probably be a good idea to stay south of the boundary and videotape the entire visit.

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My understanding is that people entering the park from either the Canadian or US side can go to both sides of the park without going through any immigration checks, as long as they exit the same way they came. Yes, in the park you can meet people that came in from the other side. This news article mentions that Iranian family members, some of whom couldn't leave the US and some of who couldn't enter to the US, have met at the Peace Arch (in addition to the Haskell Free Library).

But if you meet someone who came in from the other side, there is a good chance they may check your belongings when you come back out, to make sure the other person didn't give you any items without going through customs.

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    But surely they must inspect people leaving the park; how else would they know which way they'd entered from? If OP's status is such that any encounter with CBP could be problematic, it would be best to avoid this plan. If, as presented in the question, the requirement is not to leave US territory, I would be reluctant to say anything other than "check with your immigration lawyer." The people who couldn't leave the US in the article may have been dealing with a different restriction from the OP's. – phoog Jun 21 at 16:57
  • @phoog: They can monitor who is entering and leaving the park from their end, so they can know if someone comes out who didn't go in – user102008 Jun 21 at 17:02
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    This agrees with what I've heard about Peace Arch Park. Perhaps obviously, there is nothing official which says this is permitted, though. My understanding is that CBP patrols the US side of the park and watches who comes and goes, and will stop anyone they find suspicious. – Michael Hampton Jun 21 at 17:06
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    @user102008 I think the question is how that monitoring is implemented. – Chris H Jun 22 at 8:53

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