contributed by Nathan Gehring
In a welcome development for those living (or hoping to live) a cross-border lifestyle, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has made live an online database to Canadian visitors listing every entry into and exit from the United States on record in the past five years. KeatsConnelly has long held out hope that the Department of Homeland Security would make available such a database. That it has come to fruition is wonderful news, and also requires that frequent visitors to the U.S. and those hoping to immigrate to the country take some actions.
Why So Important?
The availability of this system is important for at least two major reasons, one positive and the second less so. First, having an easily accessible system for determining entries and exits from the United States makes it much easier for individuals to track amount of time spent in the United States. This is important for a variety of reasons including remaining in compliance with immigration or travel requirements and establishing or preventing tax residency within the United States. Previously, individuals had to maintain and rely solely on their own records to know how much time they had spent in the United States. While we recommend that individuals continue to maintain such records, having a second source of information is a helpful asset.
Second is both a negative and positive. Unfortunately, CBP’s records of border crossing are imperfect. The records of some KeatsConnelly employees were pulled from this new system and reviewed for accuracy. At least one vital error was discovered. In this case, an exit from the United States to Canada was not registered in the system. This meant the individual would appear to CBP to have overstayed their 6 month visa and potentially be barred from entry into the United States in the future, despite actually having left the United States within the required timeframe and having a valid visa for re-entry. The process to remove such a ban from entry is extremely difficult. However, on the positive side, with this system now in place, this individual has the opportunity to have the record corrected before such a ban is ever put in place.
Using The System
From our review, using the system is fairly simple and requires about five minutes. In order to use the system, individuals will require several pieces of information found on their passport including country of issuance, passport number, full name and date of birth. With this information in hand, it’s simply a matter of visiting the site at the below link, entering the information and submitting the query.
The website also offers a helpful Frequently Asked Questions section that offers more details about how the system works and other information. The FAQ can be accessed at the above link on a tab in the upper left corner.
KeatsConnelly is excited that this system has been made available. We do recommend that anyone living a cross-border lifestyle take some actions as soon as possible to continue to improve the quality of their lifestyle, including the following:
- Monitor CBP records at least annually and compare with personal records.
- If there are discrepancies, have these corrected immediately before problems arise at a future border crossing.
- Continue to maintain personal detailed records of border crossings.
KeatsConnelly will be reaching out to our clients to assist in this process in the very near future.
More Work, Less Hassle
Unfortunately, this new system won’t provide individuals the opportunity to save time by no longer maintaining their own border crossing records, In fact, what we recommend actually means more work is necessary by regularly reviewing the CBP system for accuracy.
However, the hope and belief is that this small amount of extra work could provide meaningful benefit by reducing the likelihood of significant hassle in the long run. Standing at the customs register and being denied entry into the United States due to an administrative error on CBP’s part is an experience nobody wants to encounter.