Mark adventures with the US immigration clearly describe why travel to or even through the US is currently a no go for me.

I already explained how my government was dumb when it came to provide passport conform to US regulation. After reading a bit more, here are more details: the USA require an optically readable passport with digitally encoded picture[1]. France was providing said optically readable (but not to me back in 2001) but with that encoded picture. So in order to comply, France has decided to go forward, do that picture encoding, and also add the big brother feature called RFID (reading private ID information insecurely from a distance)[2].

So in order to enter USA I would need to either get a new passport, with RFID, which I'm not even sure I can get it yet, or apply for a visa to enter the USA. The later require giving out personal information that is no matter to them, including information about other people, information I'm not even sure will be protected adequately. In both case I would have to tick the box "have you been declined entry to the USA" and possibly be treated like a criminal (re-read Mark's adventure).

And for those who wonder why I have to check that box? Well, it is simple. I have to go to the Canadian border to get my PR status straightened out. For that I had 2 solution. The expensive solution: fly anywhere I can, the closest being Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, Cuba or French Carribeans, and go back to Canada. I don't know for Cuba[3], but the other two wouldn't be a problem with a French passport as they are French territories. The cheap solution was just to drive 80km to reach the border between USA and Canada. That's what I did. But here is the deal: you can't U-turn before reaching the US border control, so I had to go thru US border control, explain what I came to do, saying that I just wanted to turn back to Canada, wait in line at the immigration office, get mugshot and fingerprinted, get officially rejected because my passport does not meet the required for DHS, and let go back to Canada where everything did go smoothly[4].

Oh to confirm about how they don't track people that leave the country. In september 2001, right before 9/11, I flew to Boston, MA for a job interview. When I left, I didn't get asked for any passport, and I had this green leaflet from the visa waiver program in my passport. In july 2004, when I entered to Canada, the immigration officer took it out and put it in his stack... Off course the other problem is that entering the EU with a EU passport, you don't get stamped, so I never had any proof of my re-entry to France.


[1] I don't know what that last part mean. Reference

[2] some gossips pretend that it is because of lobbying from the official supplier of said RFID chips

[3] whether I need a visa or not

[4] Canada immigration is fine, I can't say that much about customs, I'll probably blog about it next time I re-enter Canada