Known as the longest undefended border in the world, the frontier between Canada and U.S. is becoming more of a headache to get across these days.
Many Canadians spend time on both sides of the border, and for many of them, getting back and forth isn’t what it used to be.
Brynne Morrice is one of those people.
Morrice is a professional actor from British Columbia who now makes his home in New York City. He recently graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Since he moved to the U.S., Morrice figures he has made about six trips per year back and forth across the border.
In his 25 or so jaunts across the 49th parallel he has noticed that each year tightened border scrutiny and more complicated immigration requirements have made crossing more frustrating and time consuming.
The Q and A was edited for brevity and clarity
ED: First of all, what is it like living in New York now that you’re finished school? Did you have any desire to move home?
BM: Well, since making my home in New York after graduation, each trip across to the States always makes me feel a little sad. It feels kind of like leaving the “farm” behind and heading out into the world. In many ways, Canada feels like one great big “small” town. The reality is that there is much more opportunity for professional actors in the U.S.
What about the logistics around living and working across the border? Was it easy to get the paperwork sorted out?
BM: While at school I never had any idea about how difficult it would be to get a temporary work visa. After graduation, as far as I knew, I would just have to complete an application to stay in the country and find work. It turns out that everyone and their dog wants to get into the U.S. to work. It ended up taking four months for my temporary work visa to come through, and I had to return to Canada until it was finalized.
BM: One guy asked me: why are you going to school? I mean, come on, what I am supposed to say? What do you want to hear? To better myself!
ED: How do you feel about the new body scanners that are being introduced at airports? They can see through your clothes.
Laughs — I think that it will make crossing the border much more exciting. I don’t really mind personally, but I guess it’s kind of outrageous. I saw pictures, and they can see your…particulars.
ED: Have you ever had anything confiscated?
No, but I went through security once and when I got home I realized that, for some reason, I had a big screwdriver in my carry-on. I mean, that seems like something they should be looking for.
ED: Any advice that you could give to someone like yourself who crosses the border a lot?
BM: Have everything that you know you need in one place, like in one big envelope. Also, if you’re like me and you require a temporary work visa in order to stay, give yourself a ton of time, apply months before you actually need it. The immigration bureaucracy in the U.S. is very slow and unresponsive. And remember to smile a lot, but not too much.