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Tips for Peace Bridge Appearances

US Immigration Attorney, Rosanna Berardi, discusses issues relating to entering the United States. Topics include waivers, entry documents, role of immigration officer, search and seizure rights and other best practices.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), certain applications and petitions that are employment-based may be presented for adjudication by a CBP officer at a port-of-entry. Our firm presents several cases each week at the Peace Bridge which is located between Buffalo and Fort Erie.
For many people, the prospect of being placed into secondary inspection and questioned by a CBP officer can be stressful. However, for those who are prepared, the potential line of questioning should be straightforward and much like a job interview.
We recommend that our clients wear business attire in order to promote a professional image to the inspecting officer. In addition, you should be sure to arrive no earlier than 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment. Arriving too early can result in questioning without your attorney present and could be detrimental to your application or petition.
You must present yourself for inspection by making an entry to the U.S. from Canada. At the primary booth, you should hand your passport over to the officer and declare your citizenship. You should then explain that you are meeting your attorney and are applying for a work permit. The officer will retain your passport and point you to a parking area on the far right side. When entering this secure area, you will be greeted by another officer who will point you to the secondary inspection waiting room. Our representative will be waiting for you or will arrive shortly thereafter and will brief you on the process. Our attorney will present your application or petition to CBP and will provide a succinct explanation of the particulars of your case. The officer will then review the documentation in a separate area. If he or she has any questions or requires clarification on any items, they may call you in to a separate area with kiosks for an interview. We highly recommend that you review the forms and support letter that will be presented to CBP so that you are familiar with the information contained therein. Additionally, CBP may call your employer so you should have a contact person available to answer questions if a phone call is made.
As stated above, our office will provide CBP with the necessary forms and a comprehensive packet of required supporting documentation. Assuming that there are no criminal or background check issues, the officer will let you know upon conclusion of the interview if your application or petition has been approved and you will be issued an entry document which will allow you to enter the U.S. to work.
Most importantly, if you have concerns before your Peace Bridge appearance, we urge you to contact us. Be yourself and do not be afraid to ask the officer to repeat themselves if you do not understand a question being asked. You should try to remain calm- there is no reason to be nervous. Most interviews last no longer than five to ten minutes and are a formality.