Someone extremely close to me died suddenly, in Canada, this past summer, and I was stuck here on this side of the border.

Had Covid not been a factor, I would have travelled home to Canada to be with the family and helped in all the ways I could (not only with grief, but also in that I worked for estate lawyers in Canada prior to my move to the U.S., and could help with the legal stuff that comes with the death of a loved one). 

I did look into whether I was allowed to travel. Having just had my EAD/AP card (travel permit) and not an actual green card, I wasn’t sure if I left the country whether I’d be allowed back in – not to mention the fact that I was at first under the misunderstanding that you had to be a resident of Canada in order to enter Canada (and declaring residency to return to Canada would have jeopardized all of the work I had put into immigration here in the US).

I called CBSA (Canadian Border Security) and clarified with them that as a Canadian citizen I have the right to enter Canada at any time, regardless of my residency, as long as I adhered to the strict 14 day quarantine requirement. I also asked about how and where I was supposed to quarantine. 

I called USCIS (Immigration) to ensure that my travel permit would allow me to leave the country under Covid restrictions and still be allowed back in; they advised that it shouldn’t be a problem, but I should check with CBP (U.S. Border Security). I called CBP and they advised that the travel permit should be enough but it depends on my port of entry. So, I phoned the Blaine/Peace Arch border crossing and spoke with a supervisor. He confirmed that if I returned with my travel permit, they are considering those an exemption to the border closure (i.e., I would be allowed back in), but as is normal with the travel permit pre-Covid, I would be subject to secondary inspection. One of the things they ask about in secondary inspection with the travel permit is your ability to support yourself while in the United States. As a gig worker, out of work due to Covid, I wasn’t going to be able to confirm I made enough money to support myself. Thankfully my husband makes enough for us to survive, but it is the discretion of the officer whether they factor that into my approval in returning to the U.S. 

It was a huge risk. I wasn’t sure if I was willing to accept that, especially if I had to quarantine on the other side for 14 days … because of the quarantine, I would’ve missed the funeral anyway. 

I ended up not returning to Canada, and in turn feel like I don’t have the closure I needed. 

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