Hello. I apologize for the length of this question. I tried to make it as concise as possible, but didn't want to ignore relevant information.
I am a 23 year old, female Canadian citizen who lives in Vancouver, BC. I have no criminal record. About a year ago, I was dealing with some personal issues that prompted me to withdraw from my college courses and quit my part-time coffee shop job. On somewhat of a whim, I traveled via train to visit a male friend I'd known online for years in Wisconsin, USA, and his parents, for three weeks. A relationship developed between us while I was there and I ended up staying for just under six months. Three months after I'd returned to Vancouver (Nov 2012), he came to stay with me and my parents whom I live with, for four months.
I planned to attend school in Sept, 2013, but since that was a few months away, and my boyfriend was returning to Wisconsin to get a job, I decided to go back with him until my school started.
On March 20th, we planned to travel back to Wisconsin together. However, when we reached the U.S. Custom's line in the Vancouver airport, I was called aside for secondary inspection and held for two hours while they searched my bags, took my fingerprints, questioned me, etc. Eventually, they turned me back and put an "Application for admission withdrawn" stamp in my passport. However, they told me I could try to cross again at any time if I bring some proof that I have ties to Canada and won't try to immigrate illegally. My boyfriend did not know what had happened to me, as I seemed to have disappeared, but he ended up boarding the plane, hoping I'd be on the next flight.
I knew that being in work or school would be the best proof that I have ties, but since neither of those were options, I obtained the following. The first three are items that the border officer specifically told me would likely help:
- My driver's license
- A letter from my parents assuring that they can financially support me if I were to need any assistance, that they support my trip and are expecting me back
- My bank account statement
- My care card
- My social insurance card
- My birth certificate
- A letter from my college indicating that I've been accepted into a program and plan to enroll in September
- Proof that I've purchased travel medical insurance for the duration of my trip
- Proof of my return ticket
I attempted to fly again on April 11th, at the same port of entry, with the documents, but was again denied, even though I told them only the truth just as I'd done last time. I went through the same procedure but it was more lengthy. It seemed as though I would be allowed entry, since the officer got me to fill out a form for a special visa that expires the day after my return flight. But his superior asked him to conduct another interview with me, and then rejected it. I didn't get another passport stamp, but they made me sign the same forms indicating that I understand I'm withdrawing my application for admission. I was there for a total of about four hours.
The main problem seemed to be that I hadn't actually paid for my planned schooling yet (I couldn't, since I'm not even allowed to enroll in courses and pay this early). The guy told me near the end, after I asked him, that the core of the issue is that I need to 'financially establish' myself. That I need a job. Or, he added, if I were still dependent on my parents but was actually enrolled in school, I may be allowed in on a break or something. But that four months with no job or school was just too much, "there's just no way...." This was a little irritating, as he had just been about to allow me in on a temporary visa, and only didn't because of his superior. But now he was acting as though I had been stupid to try in the first place. I had brought all of the documents that the officer from the first attempt had told me to bring, and more.
I am very worried after reading about several similar cases online. It seems that, after being denied entry even once, it is very unlikely that someone will be accepted later. And that after being denied twice, it is virtually impossible, even if exceptional proof of one's ties to Canada is acquired (if I waited until I really was enrolled in classes and had a job). Due to the terrifying nature of the inspection itself, I am afraid to try again any time in the future unless I am almost positive that I will be allowed through. I've been advised many things by different people who are not experts, such as: to go to my local U.S. Consulate, to hire a lawyer, to try again once I'm in school, and to never even attempt entering any time soon or I will risk being banned for 5 years.
Aside from the obvious misfortune of not being able to visit him anymore, I am afraid of possible long-term consequences. My boyfriend and I plan to get married at some point, after I am finished with my degree. The plan was that, once I'm finished, I'll attain a fiance visa and eventually immigrate to the US through legal mechanisms. But, with this on my record, I am worried that will never be a possibility, and any attempts at attaining any sort of visa will be denied.
I'd greatly appreciate any advice that someone might give me, as I have no idea what to do right now, and fear that taking any action might only make things worse. Would waiting a certain amount of time before attempting to enter make sense? If so, should I wait a few months, or will years be necessary? Is it worth hiring a border lawyer? Would the U.S. Consulate do anything?
Thank you. I greatly appreciate any advice in advance.