Traveling with a soon-to-expire Chinese passport to the States, will we get trouble?
March 10, 2012 11:33 PM   Subscribe

Asking for friend: Chinese passport with US Visa expiring in less than six months, will we get trouble crossing the border from Canada to US for a trip?

I have a family friend who is traveling with her family on a bus tour to the States next week. They're permanent citizens of Canada, but they don't have a passport yet, so they're traveling with their Chinese passport. They have a valid visa, but their passport is expiring in June.

The tour bus operator company won't let them go with them unless they can get through the border at least once before the trip. I'm taking them tomorrow but will we get any problems? I think she'll have better luck going to the States with the tour company than me because they have a start and end date. I'm just driving them over the border, which seems significantly more sketchy to me.

But anyways, if we get turned away, does anyone know how we can convince the tour company to take them still? It's their fault for not checking their passports beforehand, but they did drop some heavy money for this trip and it would suck if they couldn't go.
posted by cyml to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oops, I meant they're permanent residents. Not citizens.
posted by cyml at 11:34 PM on March 10, 2012

My old passport has already expired. My visa to travel to the United States is still valid but in my expired passport. Do I need to apply for a new visa with my new passport?

If your visa is still valid you can travel to the United States with your two passports, as long as the visa is valid, not damaged, and is the appropriate type of visa required for your principal purpose of travel.
posted by three blind mice at 11:42 PM on March 10, 2012

Response by poster: They don't have a new passport. They only have their current one, which will expire in three months.
posted by cyml at 11:44 PM on March 10, 2012

Was their US visa issued for multiple ("M") entries?
posted by halogen at 12:19 AM on March 11, 2012

To answer your question (I am not an immigration attorney but I was a legal assistant to one), no, the rules are quite explicit: their passports need to be valid for a minimum of six month after their date of entry. They must obtain and bring new passports and bring their old, canceled ones with the visas to cross the border.
posted by halogen at 12:23 AM on March 11, 2012

I know people with Canadian passports who've been allowed into the U.S with a soon to expire passport. Being part of a tour group will probably help, too. Safest thing to do would be to get expedited passports.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:45 AM on March 11, 2012

When I've crossed the US-Canada border on buses, a few years ago but after 9/11, all the bus passengers got a *lot* more careful inspection of their documents in both directions than I've ever been party to on a border crossing as a white "respectable" looking and acting adult.
posted by thatdawnperson at 7:24 AM on March 11, 2012

I don't believe the United States requires anything other than a valid passport. However, you may want to look into what Canada requires for re-entry.

There's something called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) that details the travel requirements between the U.S, Canada, Mexico (and the Caribbean). Definitely read it! Specifically, here are the requirements for Canadian citizens crossing the U.S. borders.
posted by carsonb at 7:36 AM on March 11, 2012

And then here's the Canadian Border Services Agency's Admission requirements. The first section on that page is for Canadian citizens returning to Canada.

From what I've read so far, it looks like your friend should be OK as long as they have a Canadian Enhanced Drivers License, though both the U.S. and Canada repeatedly recommend that Canadian citizens use their valid Canadian passport because it is the only reliable and universally accepted travel and identification document available to Canadians for the purpose of international travel.

If it's hard to look the invested money away in this case, just think how hard things'll be if your friend can't get back into Canada. It'll be worth their while to do this right, so I'd recommend contacting the CBSA directly and figuring out how to get an expedited Canadian passport.
posted by carsonb at 7:51 AM on March 11, 2012

Oh sheesh, I just cottoned on to the fact that your friend isn't a Canadian citizen. Well, that's a whole 'nother sack of bees.

Make sure you take their PR card with you today. And really, before you go anywhere or attempt anything, I'd get on the horn with the CBSA ASAP. Call them!
posted by carsonb at 8:07 AM on March 11, 2012

You said they are permanent Canadian citizens? Then can they just get a passport this week? It costs an extra $70 for the 24-hour urgent service, and you have to go there in person.
posted by bread-eater at 1:12 PM on March 11, 2012

Oh sorry, I just saw the OP's first comment/correction. I guess my older comment was deleted for that reason. D'Oh.
posted by bread-eater at 1:13 PM on March 11, 2012

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