I had a call from a Canadian citizen yesterday. He called because he was barred from entering the U.S. after he told the CBP officer at the Toronto International Airport pre-clearance (https://torontopearson.com/en/Preclearance/#) that the purpose for his visit was to open a U.S. bank account in NY. I probed and got more facts and concluded that the CBP officer was probably correct in his assessment. Thus, the problem!
The caller is an entrepreneur/trader who lives and works in Canada. He basically travels to the U.S. on visitor status to source U.S. and Canadian household goods for distribution and sales in Africa. His office is in Toronto and his business is online and in Canada. He does not have a storefront and works out of a warehouse. His gross income is in the millions. Having a U.S. bank account would boost his sales and facilitate further expansion of his business. He has no desire to move to the U.S.
Under current law (https://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/act.html) , visitors to the U.S. are prohibited, with limited exceptions, from conducting business activities, including for the most part, what the caller had wanted to do. This clearly conflicts with the business realities of today.
The last comprehensive reform to the Immigration and Nationality Act happened 22 years ago in 1996 when Bill Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA.) People back then still read paperbacks and newspapers, there was no internet, and pagers were still a thing! A mobile economy as it exists today was not on anyone's radar.
We are living in a digital world with e-commerce dominating globally, but our immigration laws are still very much analog! Everyone agrees that these laws need major reform. The talking heads on TV and in DC constantly discuss and agonize over the need for reform, yet perpetually fail to offer solutions. Sadly, immigration reform has become a tragic satire similar to Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot!
So, its fair for people in the global workforce, such as the Canadian entrepreneur who called me yesterday, to be confused as to why they may be prohibited from having a U.S. bank account if the purpose is to buy more U.S. products, sell them globally, pay U.S. taxes, and thereby stimulate the U.S. economy. What is not fair is the application of our outdated set of immigration laws!
Luckily, he wants to retain our office. We are happy to represent him to prepare and file his E-1 trader visa petition. A more contemporary set of laws however would have made this process much more efficient.