Our middle son, Matthew, landed and went back to the US for a while. He stopped by the office here in Winnipeg to get his Returning Resident"s Permit with no problem though these days most lawyers and consulants advise against getting an RRP. Note this has since changed to the Permanent Resident Card which you must have until you become a citizen. In the end Matt did not settle in Canada as he fell in love with and married an American.
Then one weekend some time later it was our turn to re-enter the USA. Our youngest son had made arrangements to go for a three week vacation with his best friend back in Iowa. Before we left the US our visas had lapsed though our I-94s were still current. When we landed I asked the Canadian guys about sending back the I-94's and they just tossed them. So as far as the US was concerned (I think) we had not yet left the country. The reason I wondered goes way back to my childhood. Back then I used to travel a lot on my own, flying through the US en-route from the UK to the Caribbean numerous simes a year. When you travel standby you are often running at the last minute for a flight and often the ticket agents would forget to pull my I-94. I once got a telephone call at boarding school from the US consulate. 'Miss Fisher, where are you?' 'I am here, at school. You phoned me.' 'Yeah, that's what I figured too, but according to our records you are in New York, having entered five times already this year from three different countries and have not left....' I explained that I had all the I-94s and had even offered them to immigration on way in to the US every time but those agents didn't want them. I imagine that since 9/11 they have probably tightened that up a bit. So anyway back to the story, I was a bit worried about our re-entering the US. And, to be honest, even though we have officially landed I was still slightly uneasy about leaving Canada and getting back in. Yes I know, I am a natural over-worrier (nice new word for the English Language!) but I am not alone, I know that many, many applicants/new immigrants worry about the same daft things I do.
So at 5.00 am one Friday morning we set off for Iowa. We reached the border at 6.00 am and clutching our passports, we drove up to the US Immigration post.
We handed over the passports and the man said: 'You're all landed?' 'Yes sir.' 'All of you huh! (laugh!)' he was a really nice guy....I couldn't believe he would last in the job. I am sure by now that the US Immigration Department have realise he was a nice guy and undoubtedly either fired him or force him to be re-educated... He said 'Have nice trip.' and we drove away.
Well, we had a lovely time in Iowa. Saw lots of old friends and the corn looked good - though you wouldn"t think so to hear the farmers whine...but that is universal! We dropped Elliot off at his friend and promised to go back for him in three weeks. Sunday we set off again for the 11 hour drive home. We bought some meat in Iowa - it is the best in the world :-) - and when we got to Pembina we went to a Duty Free shop for some booze. We bought a bottle of Scotch and a bottle of Gin...and I lingered by the perfume counter but Alan didn"t get the hint.....sigh... but perhaps it's just as well..... I did try out Elizabeth Taylor"s Black Pearls.. it"s awfully sweet and sickly .......smells a bit like talcum powder to me ...so it"s not my cup of tea...another digression...however if anyone would care to e-mail Alan and point out that other perfumes are pretty nice I would be most grateful.... back to story...... What happens is this... you go to store and pick out items. Pay for them and they give you a receipt and a " ticket". Then you drive to the border. Just at the border you stop by a line of grey trailers and they come out, take the ticket, return with your purchase and off you go. Next you line up by a booth ....like a toll booth ......and you talk with Immigration/Customs .... the conversation went like this:- 'You are both Canadian Citizens?' 'No Sir we are landed immigrants.' waving tightly clutched passports and driver's licenses. 'Where do you live?' 'Winnipeg.' 'Have you been out of the country more than 48 hours?' 'Yes since Friday, 6.00 am.' 'Did you buy or were you given anything in the US?' 'Yes we just bought $24 dollars worth of booze. And we bought some meat.' 'You have the meat with you?' 'Yes' 'Value?' 'About $50.' 'OK welcome home.' And that, dear readers, was that. And then we drove home. And it felt GOOD. Really good.
Go to Chapter Thirteen