Soft landing experience at the Preace Arch Blaine, WA

TL;DR: We completed our soft landing successfully last weekend at Peace Arch at the Washington-BC (Blaine) border. The first officer at the post was not happy that we were there but everything afterward went very smoothly.

We were driving up from the San Francisco Bay Area and our plan going in was to say that we want to do soft landing and if they didn’t allow then come back the next day and say we are ready to settle (so we booked an Airbnb for quarantine, documentation of our quarantine plans, and to show an intention of settlement we had an Airbnb apartment till end of Nov, a letter from our employer saying we can work from Canada albeit till the end of Dec, proof of funds to show we have enough to settle). We drove up to Seattle in our car and then it left it at a friend’s place and took a one-way rental, in case we had to ‘settle’.
We had the option to pick a Canadian-plated car and did so because there were incidents of BC-locals showing animosity towards US-plated cars.

At the border: The first officer at the crossing asked us for the purpose of our trip and we said we wanted to finalize our PR application and return immediately to the US. The officer was not impressed and started shouting at us on why we want to do this during a pandemic. On essential travel is allowed and this is not essential, do we have a place to quarantine, are we prepared to quarantine. We tried to cut in and explain but he kept on shouting. We (sort of whenever we could get a word in) kept repeating that we want to just finalize and return immediately. I think we managed to say that out CoPRs are expiring and it says on our CoPR that it won’t be extended under any circumstances. Not sure if we managed to say that out aloud completely because it was difficult to get a word in. Most of the time we could just say “I am sorry officer let me explain…” And he would move to the next question/statement. He then went inside his booth and started typing…we weren’t sure what was going on. He had questions about how we got to Washington, where we got the rental car etc. He then had questions on whether we had goods to follow, which we did. We said we only have one copy and he said it is ok they can photocopy it…that is when we thought maybe he is going to let us through after all. Then he gave us a yellow paper and asked us to move ahead and pull up next to an officer there.

The officer at the next spot asked us to park and go inside the building with our papers to a counter. The officer at the counter was super nice, asked us for our passports, allowed us to add a couple of things to our goods to follow, and made us sign and initial a few places on our CoPR. Then we waited for half an hour while she went inside. The whole time we were the only travelers and some 15-20 officers must have been around.

She finally came back, gave us our copy of the signed CoPR. She also took down the address for sending the PR cards - she was ok with it being a friend’s address. She explained we can use CoPR as proof till we get the cards and if we lose CoPR then the stamp in our passports will serve as secondary proof that we landed.

No issues at the US border in getting back using our valid H1-B visa stamp. I felt the customs inspection was quite relaxed(we were allowed to cross with the fruits we had) when we told the officer that we just turned back at the Canadian station.

The key at the Canadian border I think is to say that you are returning immediately to the US. I think they are worried about people doing soft landing, staying for 2-3 days (with or without quarantine), and then traveling back - the lady officer checked with us to make sure that we were not planning to do that.

Hope this experience helps someone.


Thanks for sharing your experience , in our case I wonder why they did not stamp our passports?

Wow I didn’t know this was an option @dousedfire - by doing a land entry, we could orchestrate a soft landing by getting our CoPR signed and immediately drive back!

As per their website, isn’t it illegal to return within 14 days mandatory quarantine?

Illegal is a very strong word. I’d say that they advice against it, however based on this and notes from other people it appears that multiple people have been able to complete a soft landing in the last few weeks.

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