Guess Who Made It Into The US?!?!
Yesterday was probably the most kick-ass day I’ve had in quite a while. After months of headaches, worrying, and fighting with the boys at the US Customs and Border Protection I was finally admitted into the US to visit my partners in Mountain View, attend some meetings/dinners/seminars, raise some money, and take this whole startup thing to the next level! So, at about 6:30 on Monday night my dad drove me to the London train station where I hopped on a train to Toronto.
At this point I hadn’t really slept except for a few hours on Saturday night, so I was pretty wired, but I was just paralyzed with nervousness and fear. It was terrible. I hadn’t been so negatively scared or worried in a really long time. I just kept going over all the stuff that would go bad if I couldn’t make it.
Anyway, I got into Toronto around 10 and hopped on the subway heading for Mike’s mom’s house, where I was gonna crash for a few hours. Mikes mom greeted me when I got there, and we chatted for a little bit, but I was keeping her up pretty late at that point so she headed for bed and me to the basement to do some email, a little blogging and lots of worrying. At about 3 I got a taxi to the airport, then proceeded to twiddle my thumbs for an hour and a half.
First off: Toronto Pearson doesn’t open customs until 4:15 or so in the morning, so dont ever show up much before that!
Second: Checking in online is absolutely useless when you have bags to check, that was a waste of time.
Once I got my bag tag I headed into customs. There was no line so I got my choice of officer, but man was I ever scared (I’m still shaking a little now thinking about it). I ended up with an officer that really only said “bordering pass and passport”, and then after looking at the nasty stamp in my passport, “go to the back room”. Not surprising, but he sure wasn’t a talker! But here’s where it starts to go better. I really only wait 5 minutes before an officer calls me up.
Right off the bat he tells me nothing has changed and that I’m still not aloud to start a business in the US. I let him talk, and explain there has been a misunderstanding, handle the “so the other officers are lying?” question and show him the articles of incorporation. He asks to see a few more things, but generally is very kind, listens to what I have to say, and asked relevant questions.
He we thorough, but he was very receptive to my story lining up, and me having all the right paper work. In the end he checked my bags and sent me on my way. Total time of maybe 20 mins. I really dont know what I did right this time, but it went well! And thats it really! I hopped on a plane, had horrible nightmares about oauth + CBP + Airport security (“I know I forgot to update the twitter application secret key, now they wont let me in the US, and I still don’t have my shoes back on!”, haha). And when I woke up Steve was waiting for me in SFO.
I still can’t really believe it, but I’m here. Were together again. So now I owe you a little tour of our hacker dojo! But in the mean time I hope this whole mess has been insightful. I hope you learn from my mistakes. And I hope you never have to go through any of what I did. Be good, be prepared, be candid, and try to understand the rules - and I think most of the time you should be fine.
Oh, and just to ice the cake after I got off the plane I got a very ironic email from my dad. It was a link to this article by the Globe on how not to cross the border. haha. If only I had this a few months ago!