I have been wanting to write this post for a very long time, as I know this question weights heavy on a lot of your minds. It has taken this long because I first needed to go though the long and slow bureaucratic process myself before I could write about it. Well, the jury is in… I will start from the beginning.
Before moving, I knew that as soon as we left the US we would be subject to a 10 year ban for having lived over a year as undocumented immigrants there. The basic rule, in case you are not familiar, is that you do not accrue “unlawful presence” while under age; however, as soon as you turn 18 your clock starts ticking. In my case there was a gap of over a year from when I turned 18 and when DACA became available, hence the ban. If you were lucky enough to get DACA before your 18th birthday, then the 10 year ban does not apply to you.
However, if, like me, you are looking at a 10 year ban, there is a bit of hope in the form of a 212(d)(3)(A) waiver. I first heard of this waiver from the immigration adviser I had used for my DACA applications, and according to her they were not that hard to get. In order to apply for it I would first have to apply for a tourist visa, where I would be found inadmissible and given the 10 year ban. Once denied I would be able to apply for the waiver and then reapply for the visa.
In July, five months after moving to Canada I made an appointment to request a tourist visa. The whole experience was pretty awful: I was shuffled from room to room adorned with portraits of Donald Trump, searched, and fingerprinted. After waiting in line for about two hours I finally got to the window with the officer. Once there I was asked the basics, and all was going OK until he asked if I had been in the US before. From there I proceeded to explain my situation, all within earshot of everyone waiting in line behind me. He then asked me for my DACA approval letter, but I only had my work permit with me at the time. At that point the appointment was over. He gave me a paper with an email address and asked me to email him my first DACA approval letter along with a copy of the first DACA application I submitted.
I submitted the documents requested and proceeded to wait. A month later I received a call from the same officer. He wanted to tell me in person before I received the email that my visa application was going to be denied because I had accumulated unlawful time in the US, and that I would also be receiving a 10 year ban. I already knew this would happen, but it stung to hear it nonetheless. The officer was very kind and understanding, and he told me he understood that I had arrived as a child, and had applied for DACA when it became available. He then told me that he would be submitting a request to get the 10 year ban waived for me, but that there were no guarantees and that the processing time would be long.
After waiting the usual processing time of 180 days and not hearing anything back, I sent an email asking about my application. I was then informed that although they usually process waivers in 180 days it could take up to several years. At that point I let my parents know I would not be coming for Christmas and went back to waiting without much expectation. It was a few weeks later after that exchange that I received the disappointing email informing me that my waiver had been denied. This time the officer did not call me beforehand to explain and answer my questions. I like to think it is because he felt bad. Anyhow, I emailed back asking for the reason, and whether the ban would still apply after I became a Canadian citizen. Below is the response I received:
The request for a waiver was denied based on how recently your period of unlawful stay in the United States concluded among other considerations. This ineligibility (Section 2(a)(9)(B)(I)(II) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act) will apply regardless of your nationality for a period of ten years from the date of your departure from the United States. You are welcome to apply for a visa again in the future and request a waiver of the ineligibility.
I’m a bit sad about this outcome, a bit more than I though I would be, but I think it is just the time of year. But mostly I am angry and frustrated at their hypocrisy. They are always shouting about how we should leave and do it the right way. Well, we did, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. Anyway, I will try again once we buy a house here or become citizens, whichever happens first. I think that will help show we have every intention of staying in Canada and we are not a risk for overstaying our visa.
Sorry for the downer post, especially today (Happy New Year everyone!). But this story is not all gloom and doom. Since we were not able to travel for the holidays back to the middle of nowhere US, we took the opportunity fulfill a long-time dream to travel to Europe for the very first time, no visa required! Below are some pictures from our trip. 🙂