Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Much ado about nothing

You'll remember that a few weeks ago we spent some time in Niagara Falls[^].

We started on the US side of the river which is, surprisingly, much the downmarket side of the resort. I think that's because you really can't see the falls in all their glory from the US side; you need to be on the Canadian side of the river to see Horseshoe falls properly.

We didn't know that when we planned the trip but it seemed natural to allocate some time on either side of the border. Andrew in particular was excited at the prospect of visiting a foreign country. He's apparently been to Rocky Point (Puerta Penasca) in Mexico but he doesn't count that since he was two years old at the time and has no recollection of it.

However, in the light of various problems I've had reentering the US since my greencard renewal[^] I was reluctant to simply try and criss cross the border in the way that an American can. Yeah, the law changes at the end of this year and soon even yanks will need a passport but at the moment if they 'sound' right and have a drivers license (in Andrews case a birth certificate) that's all the documentation they need.

I could probably manage it if I kept my mouth shut and just flashed my Arizona drivers license but of course that's hoping no one asks me a direct question. There's also the little matter of it being a fraudulent entry, not a minor matter when dealing with US immigration and citizenship. Indeed, falsely claiming to be a US citizen at any time is probably fatal to any future attempt to become a citizen.

Nope, my only option, legally and morally, was to present my passport and greencard when attempting to reenter the US. Hence the decision that we'd cross the border just once in each direction. Actually I was ok with the idea that Sonya and Andrew could criss cross to their hearts content but in the event that didn't happen.

Crossing into Canada was almost too easy. Country of citizenship? Show em my greencard and they were happy. Not their problem. You understand that if attempting an entry into Canada without Canadian citizenship they naturally want some kind of assurance that you can leave again. A greencard that appears to be valid is 'good enough'. By the time I get to US immigration to validate myself using that greencard I'm on US territory and the US's problem. I reckon showing a Commonwealth passport didn't hurt a bit! :-)

Thus a day or two spent in Canada enjoying Leek and Salmon pie[^]. What a pleasure to be in a place where distances are measured in Kilometres and where freeway exit signs use 'Sortie' as well as 'Exit'. :-) Fascinatingly enough I note that the emergency services number, at least in Toronto, is 911.

Coming back I was getting a trifle nervous. I had Sonya drive the last few kilometres; that way if I was hauled off to secondary inspection we wouldn't have to do the quick driver swap.

I had my reading glasses and a thick novel ready! No music player; when in secondary they work their way down the list of inspectees and call out your name; fail to answer and they quickly pass on to the next name and you can triple your time there. Believe me, you ain't walking out of there without someone escorting you past security!

Oh, and some instructions to Sonya. When we stop and the guy asks for country of citizenship identify Sonya and Andrew in that order and then point to me and say Australian. No point in confusing the guy by blurting out Australian first!

So we get to the inspection point and it all goes as hoped if not expected. American, American, Australian. I hand over my passport and greencard. A quick visual scan of both and he handed em back and we were cleared through! Phew!!!

All that worry for nothing!!

1 comment:

Guy said...

Rob: As Monty suggested, there needs to be a place to ask you questions to help test your ability to pass the citizenship exam. Why don't you make a specific "Test Me" blog post.