My Soft Landing@ Oct3, Peace Arch (H1B worker using AVR with only expired F1 visa stamps)

  • I am a single individual on H1B, never went out the US since early 2015. I only have expired F1 visas on my passport.

  • Covid test taken at CVS on 9/30 at 4pm

  • I renewed my passport 4 months before landing, all Canadian and US visa stamps are on the old passport.

  • My CoPR is valid, expiring on 10/22/2021

Documents asked by Canada/US officers:
CoPR
Goods to Follow
Passport (old and new)
negative COVID-test result
I-797 forms (old and new)

Experience:
Part 0:
I left from a hotel in Bellingham in the morning and reached the US border at around 9:25am.
(Notice: Google navigation might ask you to get off I-5 from exit 275, that will lead you to another border station, NOT Peace Arch. So stay on I-5 till the end, and don’t exit through 275 if you want to land in Peace Arch)

Part 1
First check is from US border (Yes, before I left the US)
They searched my rental car, checked my passports and asked quite a few questions, including but not limited to:
Q1: purpose to go to Canada?
Q2: Why do you pursue a status in Canada when you have one (H1B) in the US?
Q3: Did you apply for the Canadian status before or after you get H1B status?
Q4: Is your H1B status ending?

Then they let me out of the US side.

Part 2
I reached CBSA at about 9:30am

At CBSA, I met 4 officers.
Officer 1 asked about purpose of travel, goods to follow, vaccination status, COVID test results and some other information, questions and comments include:

  1. why do you come so late after approval in February?
  2. why are there so few items in Goods to Follow? (no car? no kitchen stuff? no television? )
  3. Show me your COVID test? Are you vaccinated? (She didn’t ask for vaccination card)
    Then Officer 1 handled me a yellow sticker and showed me to Officer 2, who guided me to park and enter the building.
    In the building, Officer 3 and Officer 4 are doing some paper work. All I needed to do are the fingerprints and signatures on the CoPR. I mentioned to them about my passport renewal, they told me to contact IRCC about it, and I need to carry both my old and new passports before the new passport number is updated with maple card.
    Then I went out of the building and handled the yellow sticker back to Officer 2, who guided my way back to the US.

I reached the US entry at 10:00am

Part 3
At US entry, I was asked to get a secondary inspection. I parked the car and entered the building. The officer was very strict and asked a lot of questions, including:
Q1: What did you do in Canada?
Q2: Did you work for Chinese government? (I’m a Chinese citizen.)
Q3: What did you study at school?
Q4: What’s the relation between your major and your current job? (I am a physics PhD working as a bank Quant)
Q5: What’s your employer and job title?
Q6: Why did you pursue status in Canada?
Q7: When was the last time you left North America (not US, but North America)?

Obviously, he was not sure about how to deal with the situation of H1B worker’s AVR with only expired student visas. He kept discussing with officers sitting beside him, and then walked to someone in the back office (perhaps his boss) for more discussions. After quite a while, he came back and continued to type in information, such as my US address into the system. After that, he stamped my new passport with “admit” and asked me to pay $6 at the cashier for I-94 renewal. I left the border station after payment. The time was 10:40am.

Overall, the whole process took me 1h 15 minutes, no waiting in line at all. I really want to thank everyone in this forum for sharing so much information when I prepared for today’s soft landing! I am willing to share what I know here, too! Let me know if you have any questions.

(I’ll travel a little bit near Seattle for relaxing :slight_smile: )

3 Likes

First of all , thank you for sharing your experience. I am in a similar situation and waiting for my CoPR to get approved and planning to go through the same path like you.

My question is

a . In step 1 you mentioned you met with US customs / border officers. did you have to go through US customs meet with border officer when you are entering Canada . To my experience , i have used pacific highway border frequently , i have never met a US border officers when crossing into Canada ?

b. i plan to do a Landing to get my CoPR confirmed like you . After that can i stay for 2-3 days and return back to the States. ?

thank you

Hi,

a. I was also surprised by the US border checks before I left US. It appeared to be some temporary setting, as some officers were standing there and every car must stop and shut off for a few minutes for checks.

b. I only stayed at Canada side for 30 minutes. I think it’s OK to stay for 2-3 days and return back.

a → Not heard of any US Officer on Rainbow bridge @ Niagara Falls, while departing USA into Canada.

b → Yes. You can do. I stayed couple of days in Canada.