Travelling to the United States is a common and enjoyable venture for many Canadians. On average, Border Officials see approximately 1.8 million Canadians travel to the United States every month.
Although reasons vary from business to shopping to leisurely visits, Canadians have long since enjoyed travel freedom to the U.S.
To ensure travel ease and safety, the Canadian government announced last week that they will be upgrading a series of smaller Border crossings which provide entry into the United States.
This comes at a time where both countries have seen a decrease in the number of visitors travelling to the United States. Consequently, a result of increased security measures since the tragedies of 9-11, as well as the more recent drop in the Canadian dollar.
The increased security measures seen over the last decade have impacted the process of traveling to the States. All Canadian travelers now require their Canadian passports to enter the States, and are usually asked a series of questions at the Border to ensure safety and security.
Further those who have been convicted of crimes against moral turpitude – including murder, assault, and drug related offences – are restricted from entering into the United States. These persons require a U.S. entry waiver if they wish to enter into the United States. If you have a criminal record and have plans to travel, check to see if you qualify for a U.S. Entry Waiver.
Unbeknownst to many, individuals who have received a pardon or have had discharged or stayed offences may also require a waiver before entering the United States.
Once a U.S. waiver is obtained, Canadians must show their waiver at the Border before entering into the States.
Those driving into the U.S. must provide documentation, and will also have their license plate numbers documented and sometimes be subject to random vehicle searches. As a result, driving through the Border can be a taxing process, which can take up to three to four hours at some crossings.
Many of the smaller land crossings across the country have shorter wait times, as they do not process many travelers. However, many of these Border crossings to the U.S. provide access to schools, grocery stores, and emergency services for more remote communities.
In the new report, 71 of these smaller crossings have been identified by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) as being aged and outdated. The evaluation found that some of these entry points lack the proper infrastructure found in the busier land crossings.
Further, these Borders also lack systems that ensure the safety of both the Officers and those entering into the States. Some of these locations lack cameras and interview rooms, further lengthening the process of entering into the U.S. from these locations.
In their notice, the CBSA posted that they would be taking on a project to upgrade these 71 land crossings. The report also stated that the CBSA would invest $99 million over the next five years to manage all of the issues identified to ensure the safety and security of the public.
This would mean that the security measures at the border would be improved and managed to a greater degree. Cameras and interview rooms would allow the documentation and questioning process of travellers to be more secure and time efficient.
Individuals entering the U.S. from these upgraded crossings will see many changes in the travelling process over the next five years.