Canadian Citizen-Entering the USA

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If you become a Canadian citizen, you may apply for a Canadian passport and use this to enter the United States instead of the Visa Waiver Program with a British passport.

You must have a passport, or other eligible document, to enter the United States and then return to Canada. With only a few exceptions, it is no longer possible to enter the United States with photo-ID and proof of Canadian citizenship.

What changes (as a tourist)

  • You no longer need to fill in an I-94 form. At the border, this means that you usually do not have to leave your vehicle.
  • You can be admitted for one year (8 CFR 214.2(b)(1)), rather than 90 days on the visa waiver program - however you shouldn't usually stay more than six months as this can make CBP suspicious and also makes you resident for tax purposes.
  • You can fly into the USA on a private aircraft or enter on a yacht (this is not allowed on the Visa Waiver Program)
  • You can travel into the USA by air or other commercial transport without a return/onward ticket.
  • Canadian citizens entering the USA for tourist purposes are not fingerprinted under the US-VISIT program.
  • On the land frontier, you may use an Enhanced Drivers Licence (not available in all Canadian provinces) in place of a passport.

What does not change

  • You have no automatic right to be admitted to the USA.
  • US Immigration can, and often does, refuse entry to Canadians who are criminally or otherwise inadmissible to the United States, or where they believe a Canadian citizen is not a genuine visitor.
  • The allowable activities, in terms of tourism are the same, however under a B-1 entry for business there is a wider array of allowable activities under the provisions of NAFTA, more information is available in 8 CFR 214.2(b)(4)(i)(G)
  • You are still expected to leave at the end of your admission period.

Longer term entry to the USA

  • If you want to spend time in the USA in another nonimmigrant category, such as H1B, L (inter company transferee) or F (study) you must meet exactly the same rules as anyone else, although there is usually no requirement for a physical visa to be entered into your passport, you only need the paperwork from USCIS.
  • There is the TN-1 status specifically for Canadian citizens. More information in 8 CFR 214.6
  • Most of the time, you can apply for H-1B, L, F or TN status at the border or on arrival in the USA (with the appropriate USCIS paperwork and other supporting documents). You do not need a non-immigrant visa, but other members of your family who are not Canadian will.
  • In addition, you can apply for a waiver (e.g. because you have previously banned from entry, or have a conviction) at the border on forms I-192 or I-212 as appropriate.
  • For certain categories of nonimmigrant admission, such as E (treaty trader/investor) or K (fiancee), Canadian citizens do need a visa obtained in advance.
  • US-VISIT (photo/fingerprinting) applies to any Canadian entering in a non-immigrant category other than as a regular visitor.
  • If you later on look to apply for a Green Card or Immigrant Visa (permanent US resident) then the rules are exactly the same as for anyone else.
  • In fact, if you are applying for a Green Card, US Immigration will look at your birthplace for determining country specific quota. Not an issue for those born in the United Kingdom but it often affects those born in India or mainland China (unless such persons have a spouse or parents born elsewhere).

Can I use a British passport

  • Yes, but usually it's not a good idea unless in a genuine emergency and your Canadian passport is unavailable.
  • On entry to the USA you will be admitted as a British citizen, not a Canadian.
  • On return to Canada, you will need to show Canadian Immigration that you are a Canadian citizen. For example, a copy of your citizenship card. It is likely you will be delayed while they check your status.
  • Under the transport regulations you must demonstrate a legal ability to be admitted to Canada, therefore an airline might have a problem carrying you on a return flight to Canada with only a British passport. This usually isn't an issue as British citizens can visit Canada without a visa.