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Old credit card debt in Canada. Problem entering US?

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I experienced some complicated things in my life while studying as an international student in Canada.

I won't explain it all here(way too long), but here is the summary.

 

- Studied as an international student in Canada for 13 years (1997 ~ 2010)

- Accumulated credit card debt around $20K during that time (long story, always made minimum payment and had average credit score)

- Immigration visa problems occurred, and was forced to return to my country in Asia on short notice (2011)

- Served 2 years in the army in my home country (mandatory military service for all males) (2011~2013)

- Never went back after the army, and got a job in my home country (2013~current)

- I have not paid back my old credit card debt in Canada since I'm living in a different country now (army+work, and actually forgot about it entirely.. until now)

 

I would like to enter US for business trip purposes, and I wonder if I might run into any trouble when entering US.

Will my old debt problem in Canada affect my entry into US, at the airport? Does Canada share its credit report with US?

 

Also, is it wise to contact old credit card companies in Canada now to settle the debt?

I do not plan to return to Canada to live (maybe travel only)

 

Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.

Edited by zeroheat

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I'll preface this by saying that for the most reliable answer, you may wish to consult an immigration attorney.

 

The most recent rules posed by US Citizenship and Immigration are really focused on those seeking temporary or permanent residency in the US.  The aim is to determine a degree of "self sufficiency" and, yes, there's reference to pulling a credit report for that purpose.

 

To my best knowledge, this effort does not extend to those on a short-term visit.  If your visit entails application for a visa, there could be some gray area here, but if you're entering the country as a resident and employee of a firm based in another country, I expect the new rules aren't applicable.

 

Now, going further with a bit of pure speculation, consider what might happen if a credit report were required:  You've never held residency in the US, nor been issued a US Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number.  Further, your credit delinquencies date back to 9+ years.

 

Even if a judgment was sought against you in Canada, odds are strong that the information and the original debt has been expunged from your credit report there (reporting limit is 6 years).  Even if still reported (it's not), it's unlikely that a request for a US credit report would link to that information with only your name from which to connect to it.

 

So, my call is that no matter what the situation with respect to your admissibility to the US, you're in the clear from a credit standpoint.  And, since both the US and Canada are among countries that recognize the need for a "clean start" from past credit problems, I suspect you're clear should you decide to visit or temporarily reside in Canada at some point.

 

< Edited to add:  Just a footnote:  If you're ever asked about your past credit history, even tangentially, be scrupulously honest -- no matter how unlikely it may be that someone would now be able to surface your past history:  Even a relatively benign misrepresentation to Immigration Services can result in permanent inadmissibility to the US should it be discovered.>

Edited by hdporter

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Depends on if they were to pull a regular credit report or a full factual report.  The latter can indicate credit history going back 10 years or more.  Some potential employers also pull credit reports as part of a background investigation, and these can also be full factual reports, especially if the annual salary is above a certain amount -- I think it's $75,000.

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the canuck card is a civil matter, unless there was fraud involved, so I doubt it will impact entry to the U.S. or Canada.

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1 hour ago, Burdell said:

Depends on if they were to pull a regular credit report or a full factual report.  The latter can indicate credit history going back 10 years or more.  Some potential employers also pull credit reports as part of a background investigation, and these can also be full factual reports, especially if the annual salary is above a certain amount -- I think it's $75,000.

 

While details are still murky under the newly implemented rules, what I've seen suggests that green card applicants are required to obtain copies of their credit reports themselves and submit a copy with their application.  In that case, a "full factual" report isn't an issue.

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2 hours ago, hegemony said:

the canuck card is a civil matter, unless there was fraud involved, so I doubt it will impact entry to the U.S. or Canada.

I tend to agree, but you never know what customs/border protection will do. If the poster was still in Canada, I would suggest testing what may happen by crossing into the U.S. by foot, like at Niagara Falls. Worst that can happen is they send you back. The problem is, last year I did land crossings from Alaska to Canada and back. All they did is look at my passport, and didn't do any electronic check. Airports are another story. 

Applying for Canadian credit as a U.S. person, my U.S. credit report was inquired. The reverse is probably also true.

Here's something I found on the subject:

https://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/48014/can-you-be-refused-a-visitor-visa-to-us-if-you-have-bad-credit-there

 

Edited by Burgerwars

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With certainty, the application for a B1 / B2 Visa does not inquire about debt.  During the application process and, if required, visa interview, the US Embassy does not conduct a credit check.  That's not to say they couldn't if they wanted to, but I have yet to see where they have.  

 

Unless there is a criminal element to your failure to pay those debts years ago, I think you are worrying over nothing.  

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20 hours ago, hdporter said:

 

While details are still murky under the newly implemented rules, what I've seen suggests that green card applicants are required to obtain copies of their credit reports themselves and submit a copy with their application.  In that case, a "full factual" report isn't an issue.

 

No, they are not required to submit a copy of their credit reports.  Again, there may be an exceptional case or two, but as a matter of routine it simply does not happen.

 

The FCRA only gives three instances where the credit bureaus can release expired or stale data:

 

1. Insurance over a set amount;

2. Credit over a set amount; or

3. Employment with a salary over a set amount.

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49 minutes ago, PotO said:

 

No, they are not required to submit a copy of their credit reports.  Again, there may be an exceptional case or two, but as a matter of routine it simply does not happen.

 

The FCRA only gives three instances where the credit bureaus can release expired or stale data:

 

1. Insurance over a set amount;

2. Credit over a set amount; or

3. Employment with a salary over a set amount.

I wouldn't dispute these facts as a representation of the situation to date.  However, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published their new rule regarding application of a "Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility" a couple of weeks ago.  The definition of a "public charge" is murky, at best, but is generally understood to be someone suspected as ultimately failing to be self-sufficient during their stay (i.e. a burden on taxpayers).  In short, they're clarifying the basis on which an applicant for a visa (or other admission to the US) may be denied, having found to be a likely "public charge". 

 

From what I can see, that rule does not contain text referring to use of credit reports.  However, a summary of the Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on August 14, including a discussion of comments received since the Rule was first proposed.

 

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-08-14/pdf/2019-17142.pdf

 

As with any new rule, it will be some time before we know the manner in which the provisions will be implemented.  But what's very noteworthy is that the subject of credit report use, as part of the determination of whether an applicant is likely to prove or "public charge" (or, alternately, a "public asset") arises FREQUENTLY in that discussion, with the DHS uniformly defending it's probative value, despite what are normally raised as constraints in the application of credit report data.

 

Quote

Response: A weaker financial status may, in the totality of the circumstances, lead to a public charge determination. As indicated in the NPRM,671USCIS would consider an alien’s liabilities and information of such liabilities in a U.S. credit report and score as part of the financial status factor in the totality of the circumstances. As provided in the NPRM, a good credit score in the United States is a positive factor that indicates a person is likely to be self-sufficient and support the household. Conversely, a lower credit score or negative credit history in the United States may indicate that a person’s financial status is weak and that he or she may not be self-sufficient.

 

If the USCIS is determined to make a credit report review a standard procedure, then you may be right in asserting that they will have to overcome the FCRA use provisions.  (I'll be betting on USCIS to prevail.)

 

< If commenting in this thread, please avoid any remark as to the advisability of this new Rule.  That will clearly cross in political turf and will threaten thread closure. >

Edited by hdporter

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39 minutes ago, hdporter said:

I wouldn't dispute these facts as a representation of the situation to date.  However, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published their new rule regarding application of a "Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility" a couple of weeks ago.  The definition of a "public charge" is murky, at best, but is generally understood to be someone suspected as ultimately failing to be self-sufficient during their stay (i.e. a burden on taxpayers).  In short, they're clarifying the basis on which an applicant for a visa (or other admission to the US) may be denied, having found to be a likely "public charge". 

 

From what I can see, that rule does not contain text referring to use of credit reports.  However, a summary of the Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on August 14, including a discussion of comments received since the Rule was first proposed.

 

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-08-14/pdf/2019-17142.pdf

 

As with any new rule, it will be some time before we know the manner in which the provisions will be implemented.  But what's very noteworthy is that the subject of credit report use, as part of the determination of whether an applicant is likely to prove or "public charge" (or, alternately, a "public asset") arises FREQUENTLY in that discussion, with the DHS uniformly defending it's probative value, despite what are normally raised as constraints in the application of credit report data.

 

 

If the USCIS is determined to make a credit report review a standard procedure, then you may be right in asserting that they will have to overcome the FCRA use provisions.  (I'll be betting on USCIS to prevail.)

 

< If commenting in this thread, please avoid any remark as to the advisability of this new Rule.  That will clearly cross in political turf and will threaten thread closure. >

 

There are two principal avenues for applications for permanent residence.  One is via an adjustment of status for those already present in the US.  The new rule seems to target these people.

 

The most common method used for application for permanent residence is an application at a US Embassy.  These applications do not even pass through USCIS until long after the State Department has dealt with the public charge issue and ultimately issued the immigrant visa.  State does not (and in 99.9% of the cases cannot) consider credit history in determining whether an individual is likely to become a public charge.  Even if they did / could, the public charge presumption is easily overcome by presenting a US person with a demonstrable income of approximately $36,000 or higher as a sponsor.  

 

USCIS only deals with aliens already in the US who apply for an adjustment of status or an extension of their stay.  That would exclude the OP.  

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3 hours ago, zeroheat said:

Thank you all.

I was able to enter and leave US without any problems. 😃

That's Great! 🤸‍♀️

 

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