Bill C23, Preclearance Act 2016, an Act which gives U.S. border guards new powers to question, search and detain Canadian citizens on Canadian soil, has been given Royal assent, and will soon made into law.
A preclearance allows Canadian visitors to the States to clear U.S. customs while still at a Canadian Port of Departure. Once a Canadian visitor has cleared this Preclearance, they will no longer need to go through any further requirements in the US. Although this may sound like a faster, easier and more convenient way to visit the States, it also has many cautionary implications.
Under the pre-existing laws, a traveler who changes their mind mid-way through the screening process may decide to walk back from the situation without questioning. Under the new passed bill such travelers could be forced to answer questions about the reason for their withdrawal and risk being detained for exercising the right to withdraw.
Another key power that the U.S. officers have on Canadian soil is conducting strip searches. In the existing framework, a strip search can only be conducted by a Canadian officer, though a U.S. officer may be present. Under the new Act, if a Canadian Officer is unavailable or unwilling (perhaps because it is not necessary in his/her judgement), U.S. officer can conduct a strip search despite this.
This bill also creates caution for permanent residents of Canada, as this new Act may threaten the automatic right of these persons to enter Canada. If an U.S. Border officer has reason to suspect that a Canadian permanent resident has violated his/her residency requirements they may deny the permanent resident from boarding their flight to Canada (although entry through land would still be possible).
It is predicted by many that Canada is going in the direction of imposing Exit Controls, and it also seems reasonable to predict that private vehicles will be facing increased scrutiny at the US border.
These changes spell caution for travelers to the U.S. and it is important to be informed of the situations you will potentially encounter at the border. To ensure that you have the information you need before crossing the border, contact Toronto Lawyer, Janice Warren.
In practice for 20 years, Janice P. Warren has concentrated her immigration law practice on helping Canadians move to the United States and finding ways to make their move as efficient and cost-effective as possible.