Information about illegal aliens and what Canadians

To: taxman at
Subject: informations
What constitutes an illegal alien? There is some one I am
concerned about who has been in the States since March. Back and
forth since December. Working on a visitor pass. I would like to
know the rules in simple terms.   Thanks
david ingram replies:
An illegal alien is someone who is in a country in violation of
the country's rules for what they are doing while in the country.
This can be as simple as a snow bird in Phoenix accepting payment
for cleaning up the RV site where they are staying.  It can
involve the spouse of a legitimate visa holder volunteering at a
hospital or a library or a museum in the states without he or she
having a working visa themselves.
Other people you may think are illegal are not:
For instance, I  used to have offices in 30 states.  It was
perfectly legal for me to visit those offices as an owner to
protect my investment.  I was able to give orders, hire people,
buy furniture, and advise the associates on how to do their job.
Occasionally, i would take a particularly difficult or unusual
case back to Canada with me and finish it there.  All perfectly
legal under a B1 status.
Your acquaintance may also have a TN or Treaty NAFTA visa if he
is a professional (such as an engineer or architect) or a
management consultant or a scientific consultant.  There are over
70,000 Canadians in the US with a TN visa.  Some of them have
moved their with their five children three dogs, four cats and
ten rabbits and others still live in Canada and commute down to
different places whenever needed.  One of my TN clients who works
as a scientific technician has worked a total of 275 days in 14
different states in the last year. If you saw he and his wife in
their motorhome (towing a car) with Ontario licence plates,  you
might well think he is working illegally while he fixes or
supervises the installation of a major electronics system in a
hotel or business building.
On the other hand, if your person is doing odd jobs here and
there and looking for those odd jobs, he will be illegal because
none of the visas i have mentioned allows a Canadian to solicit a
job in the USA and then perform the service.
However, be wary of informing on someone.  It can backfire.  One
fellow just across the border from Vancouver tried to "squeal" on
a Canadian who was the president of the strata council of the
condominium project his vacation home was in.  The president had
cancelled a maintenance contract on the units because of shoddy
The Homeland Security investigated and ended up arresting and
deporting the wife of the complainant because they determined
that she was in the USA illegally.  The last I heard, Homeland
Security was considering charging the complainant with smuggling
an illegal alien into the USA.
Over the years, I have had Canadians arrested twice for accepting
a visa card in the businesses they own in the USA.
I have had a client deported by the INS for sweeping the floor in
his warehouse in the US after firing his manager for letting the
place get filthy.  The fired employee knew what the owner would
do and phoned the INS to stay that a Canadian was illegally
sweeping the floor.
I have had a client arrested and deported for buying a ladder at
a lumber store in Portland.  He bought the ladder and transported
it from the lumber store to his $3,000,000 building project.  It
was legal for him to buy the ladder but it was illegal for him to
transport a business product between two spots in the US.  He
"could" have bought the ladder in Vancouver,  Canada and carried
it to the US building site.  This was another case where a fired
employee had called the INS after being fired and the INS was at
the site when the boss showed up with the ladder.
Another mother and son were arrested, jailed, and deported in
Phoenix for collecting rents at 32 apartments her husband had
owned.  He died in Phoenix in the arms of the female rental agent
and the wife had gone down to Phoenix, fired the rental agent and
went out to collect the rents herself.  The fired agent called
the INS who went over and arrested the widow and her son.  The
story gets better. It turned out that the rental agent also held
the first mortgage on the property.  When she did not get paid
her mortgage payment for three months (no one was collecting rent
to pay it) she foreclosed and ended up owning the whole complex
One that I did not like was a Canadian vacationer who was
arrested by the INS while taking a toy airplane off the roof of
his neighbour's house at the request of his paraplegic neighbour
who he was in the habit of helping out on a regular basis.
Another neighbour who was a handyman who used to charge the
paraplegic for odd jobs called the INS, being incensed that this
"Canadian" was stealing his job from him.
There are things that a Canadian can do.  A Canadian can buy a
lot and build or fix a house, condo, mobile home or tent for his
or her own use.  However, if a Canadian Family is building or
fixing their property and a brother or friend comes down, the
brother, sister, adult son or daughter or good friend can not
sweep, paint, build, carry, or fetch anything if they are not on
the title of the property.
BUT! if the cottage or mobile home or cabin or chalet or motor
launch or sailboat is or was a rental unit or is being fixed up
to rent, the owners themselves can NOT clean, sweep, paint, fix,
build, repair or collect rent for the product.
In fact, in the extreme, If a Canadian went to visit a friend in
Florida or Hawaii or California and the American friend took them
out on the American's sailboat, when the boat comes back to dock,
the Canadian guest better NOT clean, sweep, wash or repair that
boat.  I was in Ketchikan Alaska when I found this out in 1977..
We had gone from Vancouver to Ketchikan and blown two water
heaters on the trip.  We bought two water heaters in Prince
Rupert, Canada but did not manage to get them installed because
we were in a hurry to get to Ketchikan.  I was busy installing
them on the way and was just about finished when we tied up in
Ketchikan.When  US customs and Immigration came down to clear the
boat,  an INS officer reamed me out for working in the USA
without a visa.  However, when he found out that I was an
accountant along for the ride, he complimented me on my work and
told me not to do it again.  Today, I expect that they would
treat it more seriously.
And you never know.  On Dec 8 or 9, I was going to Blaine to take
delivery of a Jeep Grand Wagoneer I had bought on EBAY and had
delivered by Misty Creek Transport form Phoenix to Blaine.  I
actually stopped to pay the $5.00 border fee because I thought I
was also picking up some toner cartridges that turned out not to
have arrived.(If a Canadian is going to the US to pick up
something for his or her business, he or she has to pay a $5.00
export fee.
The INS/Customs man did not like my answers or something and I
ended up waiting for an hour while they X-rayed the Grand Wagoner
Jeep i was driving.  They had about 8 of us in line so it was not
just me but it was unnerving to say the least.  In September, I
had actually bought the jeep I was driving from Oregon's Crown
Prosecutor of the year for drug prosecutions and I had visions of
somebody having planted something in the car to "get the
prosecutor" and my licence plate had triggered the serial number,
etc., etc.,  - well - you get the idea.
If you want more of a list of what visas are available and what
Canadians can do in the US, go to and read the
"Entering the US" section in the second box down on the right
hand side.
Hope this helps.
David Ingram's US/Canada Services
US / Canada / Mexico tax, Immigration and working Visa
US / Canada Real Estate Specialists
Home office at:
4466 Prospect Road
North Vancouver,  BC, CANADA, V7N 3L7
Cell (604) 657-8451 -
(604) 980-0321 Fax (604) 980-0325
Calls welcomed from 10 AM to 10 PM 7 days a week (please do not
fax or phone outside of those hours as this is a home office)
email to taxman at
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