Adirondack Train ? Urgent Canadian Immigration Question

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Sam, Jan 22, 2014.

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  1. Jan 22, 2014 #1

    Sam

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    Hi friends,

    Just wanted to check in to the forum for advice regarding Amtrak's Adirondack Train. For those who have gone on the train recently, what was the process for passport check by Canadian Border police? From what I've read, it seems inspection occurs on the train itself – do the agents swipe/scan the passport or simply visually inspect it? Is there an inspection that occurs in Montreal itself? What questions should I expect from agnets?

    I am currently a student and was invited to an academic conference in Montreal this weekend. However, I may be inadmissible and after a frustrated few hours calling the embassy am debating buying a ticket and seeing what happens. Regardless, any advice would be useful.

    Best,

    Sam
     
  2. Jan 22, 2014 #2

    pennyk

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    When I traveled about 15 months ago, my US passport was checked on the train. I was asked very few questions (but then again I am a middle-aged non-threatening looking woman).
     
  3. Jan 22, 2014 #3

    zephyr17

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    I was just on it in September. CBSA agents board the train which stops just over the border. They do a visual inspection of your documents (NEXUS card in my case) and ask some questions, I don't recall them having anything to scan it with, but may be wrong about that. Also, in order to get a NEXUS card I have already been "investigated" and cleared by both CBSA and US ICE so they might go a bit easier once they establish the card is legit. I had my bag stowed at the end of the car (thank you Penn Station Redcap!), and they asked where it was. It was pretty painless, although the stop was quite long.

    There is no inspection in Montreal. The questions were basic such as what is your purpose traveling to Canada, do you have an alcoholic beverages and questions of that sort.

    I assume you are asking about the swipe/scan because you have a DUI or something that would cause you to be inadmissible to Canada. The basic rule is if you have one, particularly one less than 10 years old, you are inadmissible. Unless you have applied for and have been approved for "rehabilitation" by Canada, the only way you can be cleared at the border is if the agent allows you to apply for a "temporary residence permit" on the spot. This is expensive and time-consuming and even if they would, they would likely take you off the train to do it.

    Also, remember the purposes of the questions is not just to gather information, but to gauge your manner and if you seem evasive. Remember that border agents have an absolute right to detain you and question you further to evaluate whether or not to admit you if they are suspicious, they don't have to look you up on a criminal history database (which is shared with Canada) to do it.

    If you have a DUI, you should consider yourself inadmissible. You might skate by, particularly since I don't think they do any computer checks on the Adirondack, but you are definitely taking a chance of getting pulled off the train, questioned, and escorted across the border to enjoy lovely Rouses Point until the next morning's southbound train.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2014
  4. Jan 23, 2014 #4

    OBS

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    They maybe don't scan passports, but they do carry a laptop to do further research on any passenger they have questions about. I have personally seen passengers questioned about info pulled up on the laptop, ie previous arrest record, etc.
     
  5. Jan 23, 2014 #5

    AlanB

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    I've never seen the Canadian officials carry any scanners on to the train. But they do come prepared, as Amtrak transmits all the data to them that morning long before the train gets to Canada. That means that the agent know your passport number or other travel document number and that they have your name. That also means that they have some time to run your info through their database.

    And from that they compile a list with flags on who to look out for when they board the train. I know this for a fact, since I've been flagged and the agent did a very poor job of hiding the fact that my name was flagged on his list. And it is a very short walk to their building where they can scan your travel document if they wish to do so.

    For the return, the US Custom guys do carry portable scanners and simply swipe your passport, etc. right then & there.
     
  6. Jan 23, 2014 #6
    Many passports are still not "scannable", and a lot of the "scannable" ones have gotten their chips fried by accident -- but the agents can always type in the passport number to look you up, so it really makes no difference whatsoever. They can look up your data with a non-scannable passport too. And they do.
     
  7. Jan 23, 2014 #7

    caravanman

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    In these times, it would seem bonkers that just a few casual random questions are asked "off line"... My guess is that proper background pre-arrival checks are made. If not, it would be quite hard to detect folk who strongly need to be prevented from coming or going...

    Ed :cool:
     
  8. Jan 23, 2014 #8

    Shortline

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    Wow, was not aware that Canada bars people from entering who have a DUI. That's interesting, I'm sure it doesn't go the other way.....unfortunately....
     
  9. Jan 23, 2014 #9

    MrFSS

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    I wonder how many people don't know this and get turned back at the border everyday? Do they check when your drive or fly into the country?
     
  10. Jan 23, 2014 #10

    jis

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    Fly definitely. Drive, not sure, but most probably. For those flying into Canada, the same APIS II system of pre-notification as used for Amtrak trains is used. So they have all the info they need to pre-screen each passenger entering Canada before they arrive at the border/airport check post.
     
  11. Jan 23, 2014 #11

    Ispolkom

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    I'm not sure that they check motorists so carefully. The last time I crossed the Canadian border by car, the friendly agent looked at our documents and then waved us on. She certainly didn't access any database.

    Of course this was a group of North Dakotans and Minnesotans in a car with ND plates at the crossing between Dunseith, ND, and Boissevain, MB, which perhaps explains the relaxed security standards. When I traveled between Buffalo and Toronto on Megabus, some passengers got considerably closer screening, I noticed. (The agent there once again showed a notable lack of interest in Mrs. Ispolkom and I.)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2014
  12. Jan 23, 2014 #12

    SarahZ

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    I'm not sure if it's random or not. Sometimes, I show them my ID, answer a couple questions, and go right through.

    When I traveled with a couple of friends back in 2004, though, they had us pull over, and one of my friends had to go inside the building. She came back out and said she wasn't allowed into Canada because of an assault charge from a year prior. I'm not sure if they swiped our drivers licenses (Michigan's has a magnetic strip on the back), ran our names, or both.

    Unfortunately, we were crossing at Port Huron, and the Blue Water had already left (it only runs once per day). We drove an hour south to Pontiac to put her on the Wolverine and then drove back up to Port Huron to cross into Ontario.

    I wish I'd done a bit of homework before the trip, but I didn't think to ask my friends if they'd ever been charged with anything. :p
     
  13. Jan 23, 2014 #13

    Steve Manfred

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    Does this mean Canada will not take Justin Bieber back now? :)
     
  14. Jan 23, 2014 #14

    zephyr17

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    At the Peach Arch crossing at Blaine, WA/Surrey, BC they do. They have terminals in every booth and they scan your documents. Quite a few folks get turned back on both sides, and a lot of Canada's refusal to allow entry are due to DUIs. I didn't know the name of the database that's used, but I knew that CBSA has access to it and uses it routinely. Now I know the name, thanks.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2014
  15. Jan 23, 2014 #15

    TVRM610

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    Like Alan mentioned... Amtrak gives a list of all passengers to Border Patrol... They have looked you up long before your train arrives and know everything about you. I have not been on the Adirondack but on both the Cascades and Maple Leaf the Border Patrol is very intense.... It seems to me if they have any reason to question you they will.
     
  16. Jan 23, 2014 #16

    the_traveler

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    Completely OT, but when Blaine was mentioned it reminded me of my crossing there in 1986. I know times have changed since then.

    Living in northern NYS, I drove to Canada often. So I was used to being questioned. (How long were you in Canada, purpose, have any ___, etc...) When driving back from Vancouver, the border agent asked "Citizenship?" and I said "American”. He waved me thru! The wheels barely stopped turning.
     
  17. Jan 23, 2014 #17

    Devil's Advocate

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    Any standard US passport that is still valid today is scannable, which is NOT the same thing as saying it contains biometric data.
     
  18. Jan 23, 2014 #18

    Anderson

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    I think some of the major crossings are like this for most people: Returning residents, at the very least, are waved back in without a blink. In the case of Blaine, they've got enough back-and-forth traffic from shopping that to try and play twenty questions would invite local complaints to DC (as it would interfere with a lot of local businesses' bottom lines). I suspect the situation is similar in Detroit-Windsor and a few others as well.
     
  19. Jan 23, 2014 #19

    FreeskierInVT

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    One tip I have is to not bring any fruit along with you. You probably wouldn't think of it, but during my boarding school's yearly trip to Montreal they would confiscate any fruit we brought as snacks when we were returning through the border crossing at Highgate, VT (our van was searched by border patrol both times I went with my school).
     
  20. Jan 23, 2014 #20

    the_traveler

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    The crossing I used most growing up was the I-87 crossing at Rouses Point, which has major shopping traffic to either Montreal or Plattsburgh, but I've used the Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Detroit crossings many times. They all had major questioning.
     
  21. Jan 23, 2014 #21

    Blackwolf

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    Depends on your definition of "scannable" I suppose. Mine is very valid (July 2015 expiration date) but has absolutely no RFID or other computer-readable chip inside it. It's the old-school passport style, complete with the original passport photograph laminated into the front cover (verses the newer ones with the photo digitally copied onto the page.) It does, however, have the alphanumeric code that the visual scanners you find at airports (the ones which look like mini scanners for your computer) can read. The last time I used it was coming back into the US on the Maple Leaf; the USCIS officer physically typed in the passport number into her handheld device to "scan" it.
     
  22. Jan 24, 2014 #22

    Devil's Advocate

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    Scannable in the sense that it works with light based sensors and magnetic pickups. Even my previous passport worked with those technologies. At least in these cases the person doing the scanning has to have the passport in their hand to complete the scan. Now with RFID technology anywhere you go someone could be reading its contents and you'd be none the wiser. How much longer before this is part of every government issued identification?
     
  23. Jan 24, 2014 #23

    Blackwolf

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    Ah, I understand your meaning now. Yeah, I treasure the fact mine does not have RFID or any other means to scan it without physically introducing it to a machine. I'll be pretty sad when, in a year from now, I'll have to start the renewal process for one of the 21'st Century ones.

    As for "other Gov't ID" having RFID? My wife's Permanent Resident Card is chock-full of computer chips and RFID stuff, but we made a Mylar-lined wallet for her specifically for this reason. Two sheets of industrial-strength Mylar sewn between the outside and inside leather parts (as well as having it stuffed inside the Gov't provided Mylar sleeve it comes in) hopefully combats 99.99999% of unintended and unwanted information scans.
     
  24. Jan 24, 2014 #24

    AlanB

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    My NY State Enhanced Driver License, which comes with RFID, also came with a special foil lined envelope to prevent anyone from picking any info.

    Of course there really isn't all that much info contained in the RFID chip anyhow. What it really contains is a link to my file on their computer; so unless someone scanning that RFID info as I'm walking down the street also has hacked into the Government database, its really not going to tell them much anyhow. And that of course assumes that I forgot to put the license back in its special sleeve.
     
  25. Jan 24, 2014 #25

    jis

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    The RFID chip in the US Passport is not accessible remotely unless the Passport book is open. The cover pages of the Passport have a wire mesh embedded in them to prevent remote reading from a closed Passport book.
     

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