In its discretion, legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which is the predecessor of the current Department of Homeland Security (DHS), utilized the Canadian Border Crossing Card (CBCC) as a lifetime non-immigrant waiver authorization for Canadians, who are visa exempt. The CBCC’s were issued to Canadian citizens who had shown a high level of rehabilitation and had been approved for several waivers prior to the issuance of the CBCC. The greatest benefit of the CBCC is that it was issued for life and a Canadian who was seeking to come into the United States, whether for business or pleasure, would not have to apply for a waiver in advance of his or her entry.
Currently, all nonimmigrant waivers (NIVW) are handed by the Administrative Review Office (ARO), a subset of U.S. Customs & Border Protection, and the maximum validity of waivers issues by the ARO are five (5) years. Initially, however, the ARO will not issue a five (5) year visa and will restrict it to one year or less and eventually go up until they issue the maximum validity of five (5) years (as an individual demonstrates continuing compliance with U.S. immigration laws).
In addition to the CBCC being a lifetime waiver, the current processing time by the ARO for nonimmigrant waiver applications can take more than six to eight months! This further adds stress in planning logistics for Canadians seeking to enter the United States for business or pleasure. Hence this blog’s title – why the CBCC is worth its weight in gold - if you have one, you no longer have to deal with the ARO.
Interestingly, although the CBCC is no longer issued, those that were fortunate enough to have had one issued previously, and who may have subsequently lost/misplaced their CBCC, can apply for a replacement through the ARO.
If you are one of those fortunate Canadians who was previously issued a CBCC and you have lost/misplaced your CBCC or still have your CBCC and have questions about its continued validity, feel free to call our office and speak with one of our lawyers in a confidential consultation.