Challenges with Border Guards - RE the Laws

I know of a Canadian house sitter who was entering the USA for a housesit. When house sitter told the Customs and Border Protection Service the purpose of the trip the house sitter was refused entry and returned to Canada.

I wrote to CBP explaining what I do as a house sitter and asked if it was allowable under US law. Here’s the CBP’s response.

Thank you for contacting the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Information Center (CIC).

CBP Advisory or Disclaimer: It is important to understand that at the time of entry the CBP Officer at the Port of Entry will make the final determination and decision of your admissibility according to U.S. law. This would include your entry and length of stay in the United States. As well as the travel documents you present and the intended purpose or reason for your admission or entry into the United States.

If you are Canadian citizens and are not getting paid in the U.S. or by a U.S. company, then you will not need or require a U.S visa.

However, CBP recommends that you inform the CBP Officer at the time of entry (at the designated U.S. Port of Entry) of your intentions and the purpose of your travel, so that the CBPO will be able to determine on whether you will require a work visa. Since, you will be provided as shared with CIC “accommodations and amenities” in the U.S.

Thank you again for contacting our office.


CBP Information Center

NOTE: The answers provided in this forum are for general information purposes only. Utilizing this forum does not constitute reasonable care under the Informed Compliance guidelines.

The CBP Information Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time. We are closed on U.S. federal holidays. Our toll-free line within the United States is (877) 227-5511. International callers can reach us during our hours of operation by dialing 00+1+202-325-8000.!

Hi @Figgbee no matter what you always say you are a tourist on holidays visiting friends, you NEVER EVER say you are house sitting, unless you want to be refused entry to the country you are visiting. There is a long thread about this at Challenges with Border Guards - RE the Laws


So true. We oddly got stalked on linked in by one of the ex THS members who was refused entry into the USA with her “intro letter” (she was an Ozzie) as a house sitter. It was a disaster, made the tabloids, had her seeking out members to warn them of the dangers of non THS support etc etc. a bizarre time to say the least for all involved. You are ALWAYS a tourist just like @Crookie says. Do NOT use that letter @Figgbee :raised_hands:t3::raised_hands:t3:


I am surprised they make a statement like that in writing. I think it is best not to rely on that.

“Paid” is not just money. As they state a bit vaguely, it can include being provided with “accommodations and amenities” in the U.S.
(I am guessing that CIC means Citizenship and Immigration Canada, that CBP is sharing information with.)

Just be a tourist if you want to avoid secondary questioning etc.

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I’m reading this as containing two different views. The CBPO still determines whether or not you can get in. Border crossings are always risky. Just keep it simple: Have all your return information at the ready. Say you’re tourist.


I had been advised when I went to the Nova Scotia sit to say just visiting friends

The border control official in Harwich chatted a bit when I arrived with my bicycle from the ferry, but all very friendly. I just told him that I was headed for Cambridge, that day or the day after. I did not mention pet sitting, and I certainly did not present that letter by THS.

So I was admitted without problems :slight_smile:


I got this in the mail yesterday from THS:

THS acknowledges that entry can be challenging and that some sitters “have been refused entry to the country as a result”.

Then they claim a magic solution: explanatory letters produced with the help of legal teams “which you can show to border control if needed.”

Then comes the talking-down part about helping those ignorant border control officials understand that THS does not regard their type of house sitting as work.

Rather arrogant.

These letters only cause more problems for members.


I’ve read these letters and they are very problematic, the last line made me laugh.

“These can help border control officials understand that we don’t regard the type of house sitting that we facilitate as work.”

THS doesn’t get to determine what any country considers to be work. I think giving border officials a letter from an organization makes it seem more official and more like work.


@systaran That line is hilarious. As if any border official gives a hoot what some website they probably don’t know of regards as work or not. :rofl:




Such letters invite trouble for sitters and their hosts. Whoever authorized them at THS is clearly out of their depths in making such decisions.


If THS has had lawyers vet these letters, I guarantee it is only with an eye to cover the liability of THS the company, not the sitters.


The thing is, this actually opens up the company to greater potential risks than if they’d said nothing. Because for example in the U.S. people who’d been refused entry to other countries could potentially mount a class-action lawsuit, claiming that THS misled them into thinking they could talk their way through border controls, leading them to lose money on travel costs.


@Maggie8K can you please find a NED role for THS and get on the Exec Board asap! :raised_hands:t3::raised_hands:t3::star_struck: and sort them all out. #maggieforchairman


LOL. Thanks, no. #SmallPotatoes


Canadian here, caused more then money travel costs! It is difficult to move forward in early retirement to get across into the US now in result and showing this letter. Hard to plan, purchase, rent in my retirement years now. I showed this letter as they recommend, more a flag!. I contact a US lawyer on a BBC article that backed up THS (Yanus law ) which they stated this was not work does not fall under the INA. I contacted the firm this week, they would not identify they are their US lawyer or would not answer my question they are the consults for THS. Needs to be accountability for this and undo harm done to some of us!!

It would be unethical for a lawyer to tell someone anything about their current clients, even whether they are clients.

I’m a US immigration lawyer and I disagree with the advice received by THS.

I don’t think that the company should be getting involved in sitters’ immigration matters at all. I would say this is a matter for sitters to research, just as sitters must research the vaccination requirements for any country they are visiting, for example.


Agree that THS should stay out of these issues.

In this case, whoever’s making the decision at THS is at fault, because common sense alone (even without questionable legal advice, if that’s actually the case, which we don’t know) helps most people realize that companies don’t get to decide what’s legal or not when it comes to whom countries let in.

You can hire the best lawyers in the world or country and they never tell you what to do — they can all vary in their legal interpretations and recommendations for or against something, but the client decides what path to take. That’s because lawyers can’t guarantee results. They can interpret law, consider precedents and estimate odds of what outcomes might unfold, for instance.

Even with in-house legal teams, they normally don’t decide what a company does. Usually, execs in the company decide, after considering legal advice.


One of the problems with these letters is that they are anonymous. THS won’t tell who gave this legal advice, except for “We’ve produced some letters with the help of our legal teams”.

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