Canadian Musician - May/June 2021 - Page 58


What Artists Currently Need to Know About Traveling to the U . S .

FAQ with Catherine Glazer , U . S . Immigration Attorney
Since the borders are closed , can I drive to the U . S .? In March 2020 , the U . S . -Canada and U . S . -Mexico land borders were closed to all non-essential travel . The border closure continues to remain in effect , and may continue to be extended . Travel for tourism , recreation , or participation in cultural activities is considered non-essential . Customs and Border Protection ( CBP ) has indicated that some of the following types of travel are considered essential : medical purposes ; attending a U . S . educational institution ; work and cross-border trade ( CBP may distinguish between different types of work , so there is no guarantee that all work will be considered essential ); emergency and public health purposes ; and other limited essential activities . The closure also includes travel by ferry . It does not apply to U . S . citizens or permanent residents .
Whether a trip by a musician driving to the U . S . would constitute essential travel has not been explicitly addressed within the official government notification outlining the restrictions , or on CBP ’ s website . If you do attempt to drive to the U . S . for a performance , you will most likely be detained and questioned . There is a high risk that you could be denied entry , even if your primary source of income is performing and the U . S . tour constitutes work .
CBP Officers have full discretion as to whether or not to allow any foreign national into the U . S ., so if you do plan to argue that your travel is essential , the final determination will be made by the inspecting officer . From what we have seen , most CBP officers will refuse to make a determination on essential travel in advance . Furthermore , if you are admitted as an essential traveler once , it does not guarantee admission for subsequent trips .
What if I fly ? The border closures do not apply to airports , so travel by air is still permitted , so long as travelers are otherwise admissible to the U . S . Travelers should also be prepared to present valid , negative COVID tests and comply with quarantine requirements , where applicable .
Do I have to have a vaccine to go to the US ? It still isn ’ t clear whether proof of vaccination will be required for travel . The airline industry might drive these types of requirements in the future by requiring proof of vaccination to board a plane , but if the U . S . government were to implement a rule requiring proof of vaccination for all travelers , it likely wouldn ’ t take effect immediately and there could be certain exceptions to the rule .
I traveled to the U . S . for a vacation and haven ’ t left during the pandemic . Can I stay ? Not necessarily . It is important to ensure you do not accrue any unlawful presence in the U . S ., otherwise it could affect your future admissibility .
When you enter the U . S ., you are given an expiry date for the duration of your stay . This is generally six months from the date of entry , but not always , as officers have discretion to limit duration of stay , particularly if they have concerns about intent to leave the U . S . or frequent or extended past visits . Therefore , it is important to check your passport stamp showing your date of entry , as well as any expiry dates written in by the officers . If you do not see an expiry date , you can also check your “ I-94 ” online to ensure that you do not accidentally overstay .
If you are unable to leave the U . S . by the date required , you may request extension of your status from within the U . S . and remain while awaiting a decision , so long as you are eligible to submit this application , and that you do so prior to expiry of your current status .
All information about prior entries , exits , and denials of admission remain on your record and can be accessed by CBP . If you overstay and attempt to return to the U . S . or apply for a work permit in the future , the prior overstay should always be disclosed . In some rare cases , officers may overlook the overstay if it was due to circumstances beyond the individual ’ s control . However , such decisions are made on a case-by-case basis , so even if an officer allows re-entry or grants new status , a prior overstay could still affect future travel and work permit applications . It is important to always be truthful about prior overstays or denials to ensure that an officer does not deem you inadmissible for misrepresentation or remove you from the U . S ., which would require a waiver in order to re-enter the U . S .
Will Biden change anything for musicians ? There haven ’ t been any official announcements related to musicians specifically , but the administration is promising immigration reform , which could potentially include new visa categories , some of which could apply to performing artists . We remain hopeful that there will be revised policy and guidelines that will lead to fair , streamlined , and efficient visa processing and smoother admission .
Catherine Glazer is an attorney practicing U . S . immigration law in Toronto and an international consultant for the Norwegian Refugee Council . She is the author of a research paper on the future of DACA , published by Rice University ’ s Baker Institute , and will be involved in proposing immigration reform to the Biden Administration through her participation in the ABS Conference and the CHF Immigration Policy Workshop . For further inquiries , Catherine can be reached at Catherine @ cbglazerlaw . com .