Old and New
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Buffalo, New York
13 degrees centigrade??? woohoo! Thus we planned for a quick getaway from the frigid and cold temps Toronto has been experiencing for the past weeks and scheduled a road trip.
To where??? Hmmm, across the border, to see the falls from the other side? to eat the original Buffalo wings from where it all started? hmmm, sounds good....maybe to shop? (you should see my wife's eyes light up...) - yes, to shop!
We took out our passports, scanned through it and realized we still have the OLD Departure cards (I-94) from our last trips to the US. Ugh! Both were past due the date stamped on them which would mean that we haven't left the US and in the records of the US Border Patrol, that we overstayed our welcome and are now considered "out of status". :(
Worry wart I was, I wasn't able to sleep until I'd know how to handle the situation.
What If No One Takes Your I-94 Form Upon Departure
To cut to the chase, I was able to prepare everything, photocopied receipts of purchases made in Toronto before the final stamped date on the I-94 and was ready to hand it over to the consulate. The problem was no one was answering the consulate for 2 days - it was Thanksgiving Weekend, probably. But I guess after praying so hard to have this issue resolved (since I was planning to enter the US in a couple of days), we just rolled it out and went for it.
4:30 AM - up and about / 6:00 AM - out of the house
6:20 AM - the highways were under a thick blanket of fog as the cold air was being trapped by the warm air that was just about to blow it away in a couple of hours
7:30 AM - whew! got out of the thick fog and was about to cross the border (freaky was that upon seeing the border, the fog just cleared up and the sun was so majestically alive and the day was indeed here!
8:00 AM - inside Border patrol
9:00 AM - still inside Customs Border Office
9:10 AM - cleared to enter the US
Bottomline was to be honest with Border police when they asked where the I-94s are and if it was surrendered upon departure from the US. Tell them honestly that it still is with you and was willing to surrender it to the consulate to clear their records.
I handed the card to them and they never even looked at my prepared attachments and documents.
They gave us a NEW I-94, stamped for a 1-day pass to the US. This time we made sure we surrendered it to the Canadian border police. We also declared our purchases and paid what was due Canada for shopping from the US. Ambait noh?