I would to thank you all the people who are helping everyone here and other forums by replying to their queries on daily and promptly basis.
Here is our landing experience at Port Huron-Sarnia border…
Background - I am on H1B with visa stamped on passport. My spouse is on H4 with expired visa (H1 from previous job) with new valid I-797 for current H4. US born 3 year old child. We have two cars on loan in USA, so decided to rent one instead of driving own car to avoid any vehicle related questions/doubts.
We live in Detroit area and did landing on Friday via Sarnia border crossing. We deliberately avoided Windsor crossing due to traffic and previous threads that mentioned agents at Windsor crossing are not taking address for PR Card for softlanding and US side is also not so good experience as well.
We drove to the border at 10 am. We paid toll tax (3 USD) before driving over the bridge. There was no US CBP check post to ask you where are you going and why. Across the bridge there was a CBSA check post. .
CBSA Officer- Purpose of the visit?
Me - Here to perform our PR landing process.
CBSA - Documents?
Me - Provided
CBSA - Are you not relocating today?
Me - No. We want to explore the area and then make a decision on where to move and then we will relocate.
CBSA - You are supposed to land only when you are moving.
Me - No response. (In my mind )
Few seconds later…
CBSA - (Handed us yellow piece of paper). Take this and go over to the immigration building.
We drove there. Officers outside guided us to park our car and we entered the building. Experience shifts here…
We were welcomed and asked to the window. We were the first one there. Apparently first one to land in 2020.
CBSA Officer - Can you please hand over the yellow paper?
Me - Did.
CBSA - Other documents
Me - Did. (COPR and Passports)
She spent sometime checking and entering info in the system.
CBSA - Where will you stay in Canada?
Me - Staying at friend’s place.
CBSA - Do you have the job in Canada?
Me - No.
CBSA - Do yo have proof of funds.
Me - Provided
CBSA - (After looking at the summary table I provided) This is good. She did not look at any bank statements or anything under the summary table.
CBSA - Do you know the address where you are staying?
Me - Yes. Gave her my GTF form which I pre-filled (typed) with the address.
CBSA - Do you want your PR card to be mailed here?
Me - Yes please.
Me - What if the address changes before PR card is delivered.
CBSA - You can call IRCC and have them update your address without any issue.
She entered the address.
CBSA - Let’s see the GTF list.
She already had this for address reference. She glanced over all of the 7-8 pages of GTF list (excel). She was very happy that we had detailed list of things as specially jewelry with photographs and index numbers in them. She did not read anything in detailed.
CBSA - You are not importing any of these cars today, are you?
Me - No. We drove rental car.
CBSA - Crossed all empty lines in GTF-186 form and have us date and sign.
CBSA - Stamped all the pages of GTF Excel print out to mark them official.
CBSA - Asked generic question from COPR. (Have you committed any crime? etc.) Have us sign and Date COPR.
CBSA - Please keep this GTF list with you or shipping company you use any time you import goods.
Me - Do we have to import everything once? And is there any time deadline by which we have to have everything imported by?
CBSA - No, you can import however you like. You can import stuff anytime in next 10 years.
CBSA - For cars make sure you let US Customs know 72 hours in advance when you are importing it. They have export procedure to perform.
Me - Sure. Thanks.
CBSA - (Handed us the COPR, Passport, GTF) Congratulations and welcome to Canada. You can go to Service Canada and Health Insurance office today if you like to apply for your SIN and OHIP.
Me - Thank you.
We then drove to Service Canada about 10-15 min away from the border. Reached there about 11 am. They had 30 min wait. We were checked in and asked to wait. We were called in when officer was available.
Officer asked us for COPR and Passports. Also asked us for address. After entering information in the system, he asked us to verbally verify all the information. He provided a print out with our SIN number on it. He also handed over a information sheet which has info on how to use and protect your SIN.
We left the office and move on with our affairs.We did not go to Insurance office as we will not be moving to Canada any time soon.
Return at US border crossing…
We were expecting secondary inspection because of AVR.
CBP - After looking at our documents. Where you come from?
Me - Sarnia
CBP - What is the purpose of the visit here?
Me - Explained that we went to perform our PR process.
CBP - After looking at my spouse’s passport, she doesn’t have visa stamped. After looking at I-797. You will need to go to office for verification.
Me - Drove for the secondary.
CBP - Asked my spouse about all diff types of visas.
Spouse - Replied.
CBP - After 20 min. Scan your fingers. Asked to wait in the seating area.
After another 25-30 min.
CBP - Here are your documents. you are good to go.
CBP officer had removed I-94 from I-797 and stapled it with the passport. Marked entry stamp on the passport with the date as well.
If you have AVR situation, please plan for about an hour or so at US CBP.
Please feel free to comment or PM me if you have any questions. Would love to help as others did to me!