Crossing into Canada undocumented (1 Viewer)

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Hi there!

Lately, I've been seriously considering traveling to Canada, specifically the Toronto area. I have a very close friend there who I really, really want to see. He's very important to me, so I'd visit either way, but he's offered me housing if I'm ever in the area, and even told me he could try to land me some under the table construction work. He's just a great guy all around, so I'm thinking of starting my travels out by going up where he is. He's crossed the border several times since one side of his family is in the US, so it's not an issue for him to get in. If we do that, once the border opens up, he'd pick me up in a big city close to the border so we could head in together. It's also super convenient, since I live in New York, so it's not even that much of a hike.

Only issue is, I wouldn't have the proper documentation. Just a passport, couple licenses, and my social security card. I know I won't get any legitimate job offers and/or have the skills and experience to get a work visa. I don't know if I'll be able to get a tourist visa in time, especially since I don't think they'll consider "I want to visit my closest friend and work under the table" an acceptable reason to enter Canada right now (Even if we're both vaccinated). We could most definitely pass as a couple, but I don't think either of us are willing to get married just so I can legally enter. So I might just need to go in undocumented, which. I have no clue how to, but I'm also scared to. Immigration is scary.

What makes me even more worried is deportation. If I get deported, I won't be able to see him again for who knows how long, and that's a really bad thought for me. I also might get him in real hot water, since he would be the one to get me in and house me, knowing I was undocumented, which is something I don't ever want to put him through. I just wanna avoid that kind of shit altogether. If not for my safety and moderately clean record, I just don't want him to get fucked over in the process.

Any ideas on what I should do? By the time I head out, borders should be open, but I still wanna make sure immigration doesn't fuck us over.

Thank you!!
 
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ali

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What is your current citizenship? If you are American and you have a passport, you should be perfectly within your rights to enter Canada any time (COVID border closure notwithstanding) and stay here for up to 6 months per year. People who live in Detroit cross the border to Windsor multiple times a week. There are several other border towns as well where Americans and Canadians freely cross to do shopping, go drinking, head out to an event, and so on. Fulltime RVers cross all the time. Tourists, truckers, everyone. As long as you do not have a criminal record, you should not have any problems.

Now, working is a different story. If you want to work legally in Canada, you will need to get a work permit or a visa. Usually this involves some kind of sponsorship from your employer, i.e. you first have to get a job offer, and then the employer will sort out your immigration for you. This is a lot harder to do for unskilled labor, and it is much easier to do if you have a job that requires several years experience. I wouldn't worry too much about under the table work in a small job which pays cash even to local workers (e.g. yard work, busking), but i'd be a bit more worried about something like condo construction which will likely be unionized.

If you are fresh out of school, you might qualify for a working holiday visa. Those are easier to get for people from other countries (not the US), but there are some avenues for American students to do a gap year. Check out the company SWAP (https://www.swap.ca/in_eng/default.aspx) for some ideas.

If you have Mexican or Caribbean citizenship, you might qualify for SAWP, which is a program for seasonal workers (Hire a temporary worker through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program - Overview - Canada.ca - https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/foreign-workers/agricultural/seasonal-agricultural.html).

But, honestly, if you just want to come over to travel and hang out for a while, and you have a clean criminal record, just go to the border, show your passport and don't stress. If they ask why you're coming, just say you're coming to visit your closest friend who you haven't been able to see all pandemic. If they ask where you will stay, say you'll stay at your friend's house (they might ask for an address). If they ask if you still have ties to America, say that your home is Albany (or wherever) and that you still have a room at your parent's house or a place to return to. All they want to know is if you're on the lam, smuggling guns or are planning to disappear. If you seem legit, and you make it clear you do plan to go back to America at some point, they shouldn't make a big deal out of it.

Personally, i would never recommend to cross the border illegally, not unless you are extremely desperate. If you have a long term plan of moving to Canada in the future, it just doesn't seem worth it to risk deportation and potentially screw up your future immigration opportunities. I am all in for "no borders" and "kein mensch ist illegal" from an ideological point of view, but if you want to be pragmatic about your future, i think it's better to try keep as much above board as possible.
 

Junwe

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Lived and worked in CAN, even hitchhiked to BC from MTL twice. You have a passport and it's all you need to go. If asked why, you are there to visit, no need to tell you need work or that you are going to work. In fact, i did it a few times and always found work anywhere i lived. i even crossed a few times illegally, no worries. Canadians speak english and we don't stand out unless you're that imbecile that wishes the world to know you're american, don't be that. Go, you already have a contact which i didn't on my first venture there, i didn't even speak a word of French yet managed to learn enough to work in MTL and fit in, no issues with cops. The rest of the country speaks english and it isn't required you speak French like it is in MTL although you can find work there too. i mostly worked in restaurants and bars but in BC i learned to sail and worked at an oyster farm, all off the books. By the way, i have a felony now and still go when i please, of course i will not say how i get away with it but it's all about confidence and not breaking down before the law. You're not going there to rob a bank, being undocumented can be stressful but you're not going to Morocco or Spain or Mexico so go, chill with friends, get a job and stay under radar. Don't make an ass of yourself by telling everyone you're from the US. Most think they're better than us so be humble and work, get paid. i was never asked for ID by.any cop. In the end the only ones that need be aware of your status are your real friends and the person that hires you. Hell, i would always say i was from nyc because it didn't matter in my case, it opened doors in places least expected. Never say you're American, if from NY. Most Americans are assholes when traveling, acting as if they're entitled to everything when it is not the case, say you're from NY and doors open, all depends on how you behave. If you go with the attitude of an undocumented person, more than likely you will falter...Peace
 

Junwe

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After re reading your post, maybe it's best you don't go and work off the books. You might not carry yourself well and it appears you're nervous without a good reason. This can hurt others chances when doing as i do. It's not complicated but you might make it so. i have travelled extensively and have worked undocumented in 2 continents and a few countries because i am a pretty good guest. In fact, all the open doors were due to my first impression and the fact that i kept it simple, always said the truth about being from nyc. Never had an issue, even when i left BC after having lived in CAN over a year, walked across the BC-WAS border, no issues. i don't know you but you might not do it right, i'm fortunate most people like me almost immediately and i employ this when travelling. Do you feel you can be friends with anyone? Can you say, here for a visit, my home address is...i was never asked anything other than why i went and for how long. You don't have to tell them where you're staying because you don't know yet. Matter of fact, don't even say you're visiting friends if you're concerned about them having an address where they can find you. There is not much more i can advise because it may not work for anyone other than me. Bonne chance!
 

ali

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You're not going there to rob a bank, being undocumented can be stressful but you're not going to Morocco or Spain or Mexico so go, chill with friends, get a job and stay under radar. Don't make an ass of yourself by telling everyone you're from the US. Most think they're better than us so be humble and work, get paid.
This is an excellent piece of advice no matter where you are traveling in the world, or even when you are traveling inside the US to states you never visited before. Local people have their own ways and their own prejudices. It will make your life much easier as a traveler if you are open-minded and easygoing, be humble and respectful of the local traditions, getting into conflict is almost never worth it. Just relax, be friendly, don't make a fuss, most of the time that's all you need to do to stay out of trouble.
 
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