Posted date : Dec 15, 2017.
I enjoy reading the various questions and answers re: Dear Bird Talk. One answer caught my attention in the summer 2017 issue 103. It was mentioned that, sometimes, a border guard will only allow you a shorter period (for instance – only 90 days). In that case, you will have to comply with the shorter length of stay and leave when the 90 days are up.
What would be the circumstances in which they would do this?
Thanking you in advance.
Ed.: I have found no rationale for the many and varied decisions given by border guards. It appears that their mood and the kind of day they have had can be a factor. Did they have a fight with their spouse that morning? One person was limited to 90 days when she stated that she was going to stay for 182 days. The guard decided that she was trying to “game” the system and said that you can only legally stay for six months, not 182 days. Then he displayed his power by stating that, in your case, he was only allowing 90 days. She started to argue about the six6-month rule and he was quite blunt and said it can be zero days if she complains further. She got a piece of paper saying that she had to be out of the U.S. on a specific date, 90 days after crossing, and had to hand in the paper on the way out. She left on day 89 to be sure – a wise decision.
Always be courteous and answer direct questions directly, and as briefly as possible. Trying to make friends will only make them suspicious, unfortunately. There is really nothing to worry about as 98% of border crossings are routine.
My one bad experience was with the Canada Customs border guards. My wife and I were crossing into New Brunswick from Maine with my 80-ish-year-old parents in the back seat of a 15-year-old Cadillac. We all had to get out of the car and wait for about three hours while they tore the car apart. They charged us $8 in tariffs of some kind and we were on our way. Maybe they just liked the old car!