Soft landing experience April 2023 via Peace Arch with AVR

Sharing my experience doing a soft landing in April 2023 and re-entry into the US using AVR via Peace Arch border crossing.

Soft landing
We drove to the border in a rental car and arrived at the peace arch border crossing at 8PM. Earlier that day we read news that Federal workers started their strike so we were nervous about our landing getting disrupted. Luckily apart from a slight delay there were no issues.

At the border crossing CBSA agent asked for our passports, I handed our passports and told them we were new immigrants to Canada landing for the first time.
She asked for our immigration document, I handed our CoPRs.

Agent: Where do you live?
Me: In USA
Agent: US is very big, where in the US?
Me: XXX, Washington state

Agent: When do you plan to return?
Me: On Sunday, 5 days from now.

Agent: Do you actually plan to move to Canada?
Me: Yes, we are in the process for asking our employers to transfer our positions to Canada. We expect that take around 6 months, after which we plan to move permanently.

Agent: What do you have with you? Do you plan to bring anything later?
Me: Yes, gave a spreadsheet print with goods accompanying and goods to follow.

Agent: Do you have an address in Canada where you can receive your PR cards?
Me: Yes, handed a paper with the Canadian address

Agent: …instructions to proceed to the immigration office…

Inside the immigration office another officer took our passports and CoPR and asked us some basic questions around dependents and declarations. She also took our phone numbers and Canadian address for mailing the PR cards. She asked us to sign the CoPR in front of her and stapled our copy to our passports. She mentioned that this is our copy of the landing document. She instructed us leave it in our passports until we receive our PR cards after which we should remove it from our passport and keep it safely.

Goods to follow:
She asked if we plan to import any goods. We said yes. She asked what did we have with us now and what we were planning to bring later. We only had basic travel related items with us and had a spreadsheet print out with all the “goods to follow” including 2 vehicles.
She ignored the goods accompanying list and took only the goods to follow list from us. After some wait she came back with a stamped form BSF186 with our vehicles listed (with VIN numbers) and a single entry that said “See attached list”. She asked if we had a copy of the GTF list we had given her and said we should keep that safe as that in addition to our stamped copy of the BSF186 will be our documents for importing these items later on.

In Canada
We went to Service Canada center in Richmond to get our SIN. Our friends in Canada had warned about long wait times and advised us to go 30mins before the opening time to wait in the queue, the Richmond center hands out ticket numbers for people waiting so its easier to “hold” your position in line.

We got our turn after a 1 hour wait. The SIN process was simple and we got our SIN within 20 mins.

Next we wanted to open credit cards to start out credit history. We went to the closest bank near the Service Canada Center which happened to be TD Canada trust. Luckily they were able to help us immediately even though we did not have an appointment. We were able to open an account and apply for credit cards in-person.

Re-entry to US
We arrived at the border crossing at 9PM. The CBP agent asked for our passports. I had the passports I797s ready and handed them to the agent. He asked if all of us were on H1B.
We said me and wife were and our child was US citizen.
The CBP agent looked a bit overwhelmed with all our docs and said we couldn’t enter without a valid H1B visa. We said we wanted to use Automatic Revalidation and we meet the criteria. He repeated that we cant enter and that we need to present all the documents, get fingerprinted and gave us a slip and asked to go secondary inspection.
We were a bit nervous at this point but proceeded to secondary inspection.

Inside another agent asked for all our passports, we explained we want to use AVR, he was more understanding of the situation and asked for only the latest I797.
He looked at our docs, took our pictures, fingerprints, asked us to pay $12 and let us go. He mentioned that the I94 is still the same. (I assume he was referring to the I94 in our I797s, I checked CBP website later and don’t see a new I94 for this reentry)


Great detailed summary of your experience. Thanks, I’m sure it will be useful to others. I have also heard stories of how CBP agents are not all aware of ARV process and it can cause unnecessary trouble to visa holders, but glad you made it through.

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