Immigration lawyer Stewart Rabinowitz of the law firm Rabinowitz and Rabinowitz offers some ideas for travelers in conjunction with Canadian Thanksgiving.
Canadian Thanksgiving was celebrated simultaneously with the Columbus Day weekend in the U.S., during the second weekend of October. U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a reminder on October 8, 2009, to travelers planning trips across the border into the United States to have their approved travel documents ready for inspection and to brace for heavy traffic during the celebration of the Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday, October 12. Stewart Rabinowitz, of the Dallas-based law firm Rabinowitz and Rabinowitz, provides additional detail concerning the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which is now applicable to travelers on either side of the United States – Canada border. “The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, implemented on June 1, 2009, requires U.S. and Canadian citizens, age 16 and older, to present a valid acceptable and approved travel document that denotes both identity and citizenship when entering the U.S.by land or sea. Border travelers must have a passport, U.S. passport card, or an enhanced driver’s license. The latter, referred to as an EDL, is available in only four U.S. states – New York, Michigan, Vermont, and Washington, as well as four Canadian Provinces – Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia,” Rabinowitz explains. An alternative document is a Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI, & FAST). Canadian Border Patrol (CBP) also reminds U.S. lawful permanent residents that the I-551 form (green card) is acceptable for land and sea travel into the U.S.
Rabinowitz suggests that travelers familiarize themselves with the “Know Before You Go” information available from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (also available on the Canadian Border Patrol website) to avoid fines and penalties. Travelers should prepare for the inspection process prior to arriving at the inspection booth. “Individuals should have their crossing documents available for the inspection and they should be prepared to declare all items acquired abroad,” he explains.
Another issue can be a traveler’s cell phone. “People crossing the border should end cellular phone conversations before arriving at the inspection booth. These can be very distracting,” Rabinowitz concludes.