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I am a dual citizen, Canadian and Portuguese, living in Portugal. Last July, given the EU/US travel ban, I traveled to Canada to quarantine for 14 days so I could visit my girlfriend in the US. I did so successfully but I was grilled by the border officer in Toronto as entering the US. I was taken to further questioning where they then let me through. However, they questioned me and had issues with the following:

  • I accidentally said I was visiting a friend instead of my girlfriend
  • They caught the girlfriend slip-up because they asked who booked my ticket. I didn't understand this question at first (English not my native language) and said I booked my ticket, this triggered the extra questioning because they could see that my girlfriend booked my ticket for me.
  • I was also given a hard time because I stated that I was going to stay for 40 days...they though this was weird in the middle of a pandemic.

My original plan was to stay for 40 days and I had an outgoing ticket to show that. However, due to the progression of the pandemic and airline restrictions I ended up cancelling my original flight and staying 5 months. I stayed longer than the 40 days that I stated upon entering, but as far as I know as a Canadian I am allowed to stay up to 6 months. My exit flight was back to Portugal, not Canada.

I'm still in Portugal and would like to travel to the US but my previous experience makes me worried that I will have issues re-entering the US.

Thanks for reading this long post. My questions are:

  • I'm an independent worker (musician), so this makes it difficult for me to prove that I'm employed in Portugal. I teach as well but the lessons are currently remote and I don't want it to look like I'm going to be working remotely in the US, so I'm tentative to use that as proof of employment. What documentation can I bring to compensate for this?
  • Does Border Control keep a record of interactions such as me accidentally "lying" and saying I was visiting a friend instead of my girlfriend.
  • While I entered Canada and the US on my Canadian passport, I re-entered Portugal on my Portuguese passport (so no stamp because I'm Portuguese). Therefore I don't have a stamp in any passport that shows the date I left the US. Should my airline ticket and proof of boarding be enough or is there something else I can bring?
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  • What passport did you use to check in for your flight out of the US? What airline operated that flight? – phoog Feb 13 at 20:14
  • I used Azores Airlines (Portuguese Airline) and flew on my Portuguese passport because I needed to enter Portugal on that passport. Why do you ask? – Santos Santos Feb 13 at 20:21
  • I ask the first question because the US matches departures to entries based on airline records, and I suspect that they won't match yours because you used a different passport. I ask the second question because I'm curious about airline practices for foreigners leaving the country -- some airlines seem to check immigration status, but as far as I know only US airlines do that. I routinely fly out of the US using my EU passport, and it's never been a problem, but I've only done it with EU carriers. And my other citizenship is US, so the first issue does not affect me. – phoog Feb 13 at 20:24
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    Did I miss something? My understanding is that non-US citizens still aren’t allowed to enter the US if they were in the Schengen Area (and quite a few other places) in the past two weeks. Did that change? – jcaron Feb 13 at 22:15
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    You may want to reconsider entering via Canada as the feds are introducing a mandatory quarantine in a hotel at your own expense. – mustaccio Feb 14 at 19:15
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...don't want it to look like I'm going to be working remotely in the US...

You're right to be concerned about that. I don't suppose that there is much documentation that could counter that concern, unless possibly a bank statement showing enough money to live on for 5 or 6 months without working.

Does Border Control keep a record of interactions...?

Yes. They might not have recorded it, but you should assume that they did. They admitted you afterward, so they didn't find that you were deceptive to the point of being inadmissible, but you should be careful, as the record (if it exists) could raise suspicions during subsequent interviews.

Therefore I don't have a stamp in any passport that shows the date I left the US. Should my airline ticket and proof of boarding be enough or is there something else I can bring?

You can. There's a real possibility that they did not record your exit because you used your Portuguese passport to check in for your departure flight. (That is not illegal, it's just a possible administrative headache.) You can try checking your records at the I-94 site; if the departure is there then you know you don't need to worry. If it isn't there, you can bring your boarding passes and perhaps a receipt or any other evidence showing your presence in Portugal shortly after your arrival.

I suppose that the last point is likely to be the least of your worries, however. The possibility that you would teach remotely while in the US would be more likely to lead to your being turned away.

Some people may advise you of potential problems from staying for 5 months after claiming a 40-day visit. The UK is notorious for taking a dim view of such circumstances, but I haven't heard of this being a problem with US CBP. This is especially likely to be true during the current public health crisis. The policy of giving all B-1 and B-2 visitors six months is precisely to reduce the administrative burden of having to process extension-of-stay applications from people when their plans change. (Canadian citizens who enter without a visa are nonetheless categorized using the same immigration categories, so a Canadian "visitor for pleasure" is still in B-2 status even though there is no B-2 visa.)

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  • Yeah, my departure isn't there so I will make sure to bring lots of evidence that I returned to Portugal. Any ideas on how to prove that I'm employed in Portugal/won't be working remotely in the US, apart from a bank statement? – Santos Santos Feb 13 at 20:32
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    @SantosSantos I suppose your best bet is to document all of the money you have plus all of the money you will receive while in the US from sources that can't be connected to working in the US (vacation pay or unemployment pay from a job in Portugal, perhaps, though it sounds like you may not have that). I don't have much experience with this sort of thing personally, and I am most familiar with the way the UK approaches this, not so much with the US. – phoog Feb 13 at 20:38
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    @Santos Santos How long a trip are you planning? Does the majority of your income come from your work as a musician or from the lessons? Do you have work as a musician booked for after your intended return to Portugal? – Traveller Feb 13 at 20:43
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    @SantosSantos So you came to the US last July, planning to stay 40 days but staying five months, and you now a short time later, you plan to return for 90 days? I can't predict what will happen obviously, but I know that spending more time in the US than out is a significant red flag, and that's magnified if you can't demonstrate strong ties to your home like a job to return to. I'd say you're right to be worried about entry being denied, yes. – Zach Lipton Feb 14 at 2:04
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    @ZachLipton I should have clarified. I will be waiting 6 months (2 have already passed) before going again. Even though Canadians don't need to do so to return to the US, I'm aware returning sooner wouldn't help my chances. – Santos Santos Feb 14 at 11:32

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