Yesterday I shared about my experience with Canadian border authorities while trying to enter Montreal. Sadly, my border travails were not over and I had more problems returning to the U.S. yesterday.
After clearing security at YUL, I found a massive line for immigration with only 20% of the stations open. I find it unacceptable to wait 30 minutes for a border agent and will assuredly purchase a NEXUS card for future trips.
I finally made it up to a border agent who took a look at my immigration form and started quizzing me on why I would only visit Montreal for one day. I explained to him that I travel based on where I can find good airfare and that I got a good deal on this trip, but he didn’t seem to buy my explanation.
He started leafing through my passport, which is filled with stamps and visas from my travels to over 40 countries since 2006, and said, "You’ve been to a lotta interesting places. What kinda work you do?" I told him I was a law student. He looked at me like I was pulling his leg.
Next he asked me, "Where do you get the money for these trips?" I told him that I worked in various capacities for six years before becoming a full-time law student last fall.
He kept glancing at my prominent Pakistan visa and we talked about that for a moment, with me calling the country (properly) "Phak-ee-stahn" not "Pack-i-stan." That must have set off some alarm bells, because his next question was, "Do you have a foreign accent?" I chuckled and told him no, but he asked to see my driver’s license. He was serious.
I whipped that out and he said, "It must be a Southern California accent." I nodded in approval. He still seemed unconvinced that I would take a one-day trip, but I handed him one of my UPGRD business cards and told him to check out my travel blog. That finally seemed to satisfy him, because he let me go without sending me to secondary screening.
The guy wasn’t nasty and probably was doing his job, as defined by DHS regulations, but I hate being questioned like that. I’ve taken overnight trips to South America, Central America, Europe, and Australia before and never faced the sort of scrutiny that I faced in Montreal.
I’m leaning toward just avoiding Dorval completely in the future. With trouble on both sides of immigration, I didn’t feel welcome.