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Does checking a BlackBerry count as working?
September 15, 2011 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Will US Immigration get upset if I take my BlackBerry with me to the US on vacation?

I'm about to visit the US soon, on vacation. I would ordinarily take my BlackBerry on vacation with me, in order to check work messages once or twice a day and make sure that there are no emergencies. Can I do so without raising issues of "working" in the US?

I remember that when I was a child, the people at the immigration counter always asked my father if he had any work papers with him when we went to the US on holiday, and said that doing work in the US was strictly prohibited. Now that BlackBerries are ubiquitous, has anything changed or do I need to leave it at home?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (11 answers total)
 
I don't think that will be a problem at all, although I don't have any specific knowledge of how these things work.

However, it's important to keep in mind that it's not necessarily easy to use a foreign cell phone in the US, particularly if you want to use data.
posted by The Lamplighter at 1:13 PM on September 15, 2011


I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure they won't bat an eye. They have no way of proving that you use your Blackberry for anything other than Facebook. I think they'll treat it like any other cell phone.
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:13 PM on September 15, 2011


The last three times I went to the US (over the last 4 years) I was only asked about the purpose of my visit, which was leisure each time. Nobody asked about communication devices that I may or may not have had on me.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:14 PM on September 15, 2011


I worry about border-crossing issues probably more than just about anyone I know (I am a very cautious Canadian who occasionally works in the US), and it would never in a million years occur to me to worry about this.

Sure, you can work using a blackberry. You can also work using a laptop, or a cell phone, or for that matter a ballpoint pen. Don't worry...
posted by ManInSuit at 1:15 PM on September 15, 2011


No that is absolutely not a problem. That's not considered working in the US.
posted by dabug at 1:15 PM on September 15, 2011


I have also crossed the border for non-work purposes dozens of times, pretty much always bringing my very workish-looking thinkpad laptop, and my iPhone, an never once has anyone even began to suggest that the presence of those things suggest that I might be planning to do work in the US.
posted by ManInSuit at 1:16 PM on September 15, 2011


I'm pretty sure that working in the US, at least in terms of US Immigration, means entering the country in order to perform work for a US company, and does not include doing work for the (presumably) non-US country by which you are already employed. Work papers means, like, a work visa, or some other paperwork that shows you are entering the country to specifically take a US job. So you should be cool.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 1:50 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Work papers means, like, a work visa, or some other paperwork that shows you are entering the country to specifically take a US job. So you should be cool.

Yeah, this is my reading as well. They don't mean spreadsheets or TPS reports you happen to have packed.
posted by sweetkid at 2:45 PM on September 15, 2011


I'm a Canadian working in the United States, who, prior to moving to the US would frequently travel there. This is a complete non-issue.
posted by ewiar at 8:02 PM on September 15, 2011


You can travel to a country for business/work on a tourist visa - academics go to conferences or short research trips (which is definitely work) on tourist visa status all the time. The main thing is that they are not employed by an institution in the country they are visiting; their pay check is coming from elsewhere. So where you "work" is just where your paycheck is issued.
posted by jb at 10:29 PM on September 15, 2011


Oh - this is also how some people who live in the US but who don't have the right to work there (like an F-2 spouse of a student) can do telecommuting to a job in their home country. I knew a woman employed by a Canadian firm to do editting while she was physically in the US.
posted by jb at 10:30 PM on September 15, 2011


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