Hello again folks. I can now add another thread to my story for those who are interested. Forgive me if I go on for a bit here..... I just got back from being in the US over the weekend with a few colleagues of mine. We went down to see a sporting event and spent the night in a hotel.
As always, ambiguity seems to be the key factor in my dealings with CBP. So here's how it started. We all give our passports to the officer and I hand him mine with my Visa/Waiver letter inside. Mine also contained an expired I-94 card inside it. This was the start of what was a very unpleasant experience for us. I was asked why I had the expired I-94 card inside my passport. I explained to him that as of late I've been given cards that don't expire until 6 months time and this was the first time I had been back down to the US since my last visit, when it was still valid. He told me I should have dropped everything and made a special trip down to return this card. He then said if it happens again, I'm going to be banned for the next ten years. He really lit into me about this and went on about this point for 5 minutes. I just sat there and stared at him not saying a word. I don't live close to the US and it's quite a haul for me to go there. Especially to drop off one little piece of paper.
First a word about this I-94 card. I've gone through in the past and not been asked to go inside to get the card, so I just went on my way. This caused problems on my next visit when the officer went up and down me about how I should have got the card from the previous officer. He told me I should have insisted that he give it to me. He then said I could go to jail without having the card. This went on for about twenty minutes with me pleading with him to just give me the card then and I'd be on my way. I'm sorry that the previous customs officer didn't do what you wanted him to do. Anyway, as far as it goes for me, never been to jail and never want to go!!!! And then there's returning the expired card. I've been told to give it to CDN Customs upon my return entry to Canada and now this, it has to be returned to US Customs. I don't know what the right answer is on this one. Maybe someone on here has some insights? If you give it to a Canadian Customs Officer, do they return it to US officials?? Who knows....
Anyway, back to this past weekend. Once I did get a chance to speak, I brought up the Petty Offence Exception and how I thought it might apply to my situation here. I told him maybe I don't need these waivers after all. He told me he couldn't find anything attached to my name (because there isn't anything) and sent us all inside. It was a sad sight folks. The racial profiling is at its peak it seems. Basically,the only four white guys were us.
When I finally got called up to speak with someone, his first question to me was why I thought I didn't need a Waiver. I've done hours of research on this and attempted to explain what I uncovered as a result. I told him I was planning on coming back this week with my sister , who's a police officer to either present my case successfully or submit another completed Waiver packet. His response was that no one at any border crossing, including supervisors, has the ability to grant Petty Offence Exceptions or the so called September Letter. He also said that I will always need a Waiver because of some code or something that's attached to my file that says I will always need one. He was quite short with me on this, go figure.
Anyway, I'm going back down this week and here's what I've got for them. I have a copy of the Criminal Code handbook from 1990 when I was charged. It clearly states in this book that the maximum possible penalty for possession of stolen property under $1000 is one year and six months jail time. All I ended up with was fifty hours of community service from this, and that was it. I didn't even have to apply for a pardon, to which the guy I spoke with yesterday didn't believe. It just went away after a set amount of time. Why would I lie about that? His point was that if you've ever been pardoned for anything, a waiver is automatically necessary.
Long and short of it is that I certainly do not remain hopeful on getting the September Letter. I've even considered just giving up on this all together. I don't need to go the the US for work or anything. And I'm getting tired of being totally harassed just to have the benefit of spending my money down there as a tourist. Still, I've decided I will go. I know I'll get another Waiver for sure. I've got nothing attached to my name. I've received all kinds of awards for things like community betterment and such since my charge of 26 years ago. My sister will come with me, (although they told me they don't have to speak with her if they don't want to) And I will post on the outcome once I make the trek back down to the US.
As always, thanks to everyone on here for their insights.