Soft Landing May 2021 as a pedestrian

Hello all,

This forum has been a great resource for me throughout my PR journey but i don’t think anyone shared their experience of soft landing as a pedestrian even in the pre-pandemic era. A little bit about me- I am not a big fan of driving and I haven’t owned a car/driven in the past couple of years. From my research, I found the following border crossings the most feasible for crossing as a pedestrian:

  1. Rainbow bridge Niagara falls (10 min walk)
  2. Peace bridge Buffalo (18 min walk)
  3. Detroit- Windsor border crossings (not much idea)
  4. Bellingham area crossing (I’m assuming peace arch is the better option)

In the pre-pandemic era (and maybe in the post pandemic era), one could take a bus from east coast cities to Toronto or take a bus, train or a ferry from Seattle to Vancouver or Victoria.

Coming in from Boston area, I decided to cross the rainbow bridge. Apart from the feasibly of transportation options, it is a very scenic walk with a great view of the falls and i had previously used it to cross the border as a tourist several years ago. I was able to successfully soft land this past Thursday.

I flew into buffalo airport and took an uber to the bridge. After walking across, I entered the tiny CBSA room for pedestrian processing that only has a desk space for two officers. Due to COVID, they were allowing only one person at a time inside the room. The officer who first dealt with me (Let’s call him O1) seemed quite surprised to see a non-Canadian (I am an Indian citizen).

O1: what are you here for?
Me: to process my landing as a permanent resident
O1: where are you coming from?
Me: US
O1: show me your covid test.
I showed it to him on my phone.
O1: are you planning to move today?
Me: No, I would like to return to the US if possible.
O1: why would you do that?
Me: I plan on moving in the next two months. First, i want to get my SIN and apply for jobs as a permanent resident since that would help me to settle faster. ( I forgot the second reason so i paused. I still cannot remember the second reason :slight_smile: )
O1: what is your status there? (I think he noticed my US H1B was expired) Can you even go back there?
Me: my status has been extended. I can show you my I94
O1 asked me to give him the i94 from my I797. He basically snatched it from my hand when i pulled it out. He looked at it closely for a minute. He then wrote something on a yellow slip. He then asked me to follow him. He took me to the larger processing building for processing car passengers located across the street. As we were walking, he ran into a random person who probably is also a CBSA for person.
Random person: hey O1, what’s happening?
O1 to this rando: he is landing (pointing towards me) and turning back immediately.
Rando: really ??

O1 then made me sit in an area located in between the street and the actual processing area. He then took my COPR in addition to my passport and I797 he had with him. As you may imagine, at this time I wasn’t sure what was happening.

Part 2:

I wait for about 20 minutes when a second officer (O2) came out with my COPR. He already signed it at that point and wanted me to sign it. He told me that he would accompany me back to the bridge after a few more minutes. He was definitely nicer than O1 so I started to calm down a bit. I then asked him about GTF. He asked me if I had one and i showed him my filled GTF form which was not very detailed. He said that was enough and took that with him as well.

He returned after 20 more minutes with my passport, my copy of COPR and my GTF which was stamped. He asked me to follow him as he walked me across the street to the pedestrian area. As we walked, he said
O2: If you want to re enter Canada before you get your PR card, there is a trick. You cross the land border or maybe shown your tourist visa (expires in 2027) to board a plane.
Me, a bit surprised: Does that mean I apply for my PR card once i move to Canada? (I did not want to push my luck)
O2: yes, just give them your address then.
Me:ok! Just to make sure, i can re enter Canada with my COPR and stamped visa right?
O2: correct! You should also have a negative covid test!
Me: sure! I also have one for today.
O2: oh! Why don’t you stay here then?
Me: i don’t have a confirmed quarantine plan right now?? I have a tentative plan if you want
O2: no need! You can take a walk in the town if you want.
Me (mentally): WTF
Me: no! I would rather go back now if that is ok.
O2 smiling: of course, you can do what you want. You have a right to enter and leave Canada

I was finally able to relax. It truly is an amazing feeling knowing i am finally entitled to enter a country in the continent i spent most of my adult life in! I hope everyone in limbo gets to experience the feeling!!

PS: i saw maybe two or three other pedestrians in both directions. It was so empty!

The entry to US was a breeze. The CBP officer was also surprised about my “trip” to Canada but processed me in literally a minute. By far, the fastest i was able to be processed by the CBP.

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We had the exact same feeling when we landed in Canada on PR. It is divine feeling especially after having so many nervous encounters with US immi and worse scenario always running in your mind.