With 119 border crossings and the longest international border in the world, it is no wonder the Canada-US border is also one of the busiest. People travel by most frequently by air, or land to cross the Canadian border for vacation or work. This too is furthered by the close trade relationship enjoyed by the two countries.
But sometimes the laws for U.S. citizens crossing into Canada can be more complicated than people think or anticipate. That is why it is never a bad idea to have a lawyer nearby, or on call, to make sure things run as smoothly as possible. This is especially so, since anything you say at the border to the customs officer can have serious consequences.
What also makes things difficult is that the rules and regulations are always changing. Even people who frequently cross may get caught out and not realize they are or have at some point in time, broken some of the rules. In these circumstances, your professionals/employees can get turned away, delayed, or even banned from entering Canada for a certain duration of time.
For many US companies who send their employees into Canada, this can cause complications, unnecessary hassle, and perhaps even a loss of business. So it is important to make sure your employees and everyone crossing the border into Canada knows their rights and responsibilities.
The Risks of not Having Legal Counsel on Standby
While crossing the border is a privilege many people enjoy freely, a foreign national’s ability to enter the country is a decision ultimately up to the border officer. If problems arise, they can have long-lasting consequences, both at the individual employee level but also to the company level.
On the employee level, the professional might face lengthy delays if their paperwork is not correct. Such delays can last for a few hours, or the professional could be sent back to the USA. If they are sent back, there is no guarantee they can re-enter straight away. Sometimes, they might have to wait for weeks, months or years before being able to enter Canada again.
On the company level, an organization could face difficulties if they are no longer allowed to bring in foreign workers, especially if foreign workers are key to running the company. If a US worker with specialized knowledge cannot work in Canada, it could be difficult and expensive to retrain another employee. Not to mention the lost time could have serious negative consequences on the success of a project.
Other penalties for the business could include fines or negative publicity—hassles that could be avoided by having an immigration lawyer on hand to help employees and employers navigate the border crossing process.
How Having an Immigration Company on Standby Can Help
With a legal team on standby, your employees will be able to cross the border as smoothly and quickly as possible. An immigration law firm with good knowledge of Canadian immigration law will be able to make sure you are following the rules correctly.
An effective law firm will understand the needs and operations of business clients and would make themselves readily available in case something goes wrong for your employee(s) at the border. Depending on the port of entry the professional is arriving at, the immigration lawyers would be available by phone, or even by being physically present at the airport itself. Since airport arrivals do not always happen during the typical 9-5 workday, they should also be able to be on standby to make sure the entire process goes as smoothly as possible.
Having an immigration lawyer on standby would also help make sure those employees who are crossing are prepared for any questions they may be confronted with at the border, or any requests for evidence. They would ensure all the necessary paperwork that an officer might expect to see is prepared in advance, and make sure it is on hand when entering.
Don’t Be Left On Your Own At The Border
Many companies take advantage of the close relationship between the US and Canada and depend on being able to send their employees across the border. However, they have to be aware that there are certain laws to comply with, and that if those are not followed, there can be consequences for the employee and the business. Having a good legal team on standby to help with any immigration issues can help companies and their employees navigate the nuances of coming to Canada to work, while also ensuring the process goes as smoothly and seamlessly as possible.
Ashley Fisch B.A., J.D. is an Associate at Kaminker & Associates Immigration Law in Toronto, Ontario