1. Has anyone heard of a VISITOR RECORD? I heard that if you arrive into Canada with your married or common law spouse and you provide proof of your relantionship, and proof that you either intend or have already applied for PR then the Immigration at the Border will issue you a Visitor Record which will allow you to stay for up to a year (which is hopefully enough time for an application to be processed). Please, if anyone else has heard about this or has gotten approval for Visitor Record than please, share your experience.
I arrived at the border in February with my gay partner who recently lost his job. I helped him move from Florida to his father's place in Pennsylvania, but we only stayed there overnight, and then he came with me across the border. We brought a nearly completed PR application and extensive proof or our relationship. The officer asked for some dates of the history of our relationship, but she was not interested in looking at the forms or any of the proof that we brought. She did ask, "Where is your receipt?" Due to a last-minute mixup, I had not yet paid the fees for the application and I think she doubted that we were serious about applying, so be sure to pay the application fees online before you get to the border and have a copy of that receipt with you.
When asked the purpose of the visit, I told the primary officer (out on the road) that my passenger was my conjugal partner and that he was coming to visit while we waited for the the results of his PR application. She asked how long he wanted to visit and he told her 6 months, but the secondary agent in the little building only gave him 3 months due to "insufficient ties to the U.S." She urged us to "at least send the sponsorship application" as soon as possible but I don't think she knew much about how the process works because you can't send the sponsorship portion by itself. He judgement of insufficient ties was based on the fact that he had no job, no property (or even cash), it was doubtful if he really had a stable place to live. (Moving back to his father's place was a bit more of a backup plan than his preferred place of living, which is with me and I think she could see that.)
What proof did you provide to convince the Border Agent? What are the do's and don'ts?
The border agent was mainly looking for the receipt of fees paid. She was also disappointed that we had not already sent in the application. (We couldn't because we were waiting for an FBI check, which takes 8 to 10 weeks and the situation where he finally made the decision to leave at that time came up rather suddenly.) You are looking to visit (temporarily). What they always want in that situation is to believe that you will not stay permanently (you have property, family obligations, work commitments, etc., that will compel you to return at the end of the visit), that you have financial resources (either your own or your partner's to support you during your visit), and the means to leave Canada at the end of the visit. They also need to be convinced that you have the financial means to support yourself so that you will have no temptation to work illegally in Canada.
They know that you can ask for an extension of your stay and they will probably explain to you how to apply for an extension. They could give you a visitor record for a year, but they are advised to only give more than 6 months in very unusual circumstances. If your application is at some level of processing when you ask for an extension, you may get a one-year extension at that time, if they feel you may need it. Keep in mind that 80% of applications are processed through Buffalo in about 5 to 10 months (plus a month or 2 for sponsor approval in Mississauga). Allowing you a one-year visit would be excessive if your whole application only took 6 months (and some even take less).
In other "dos and don'ts" you should bring an appropriate amount of clothes for a stay of a few months, not too much and not too little. Under no circumstances should you bring furniture or other such possessions that would wouldn't normally take on a vacation (even if it is a long vacation). We had the car tightly stuffed with clothes and bedding and all the food from his kitchen (even the stuff from the fridge). We were just lucky that they didn't decide to inspect the contents of the car, because repacking it afterwards would have been very difficult and time-consuming. We had things stuffed into every crack and crevice. My partner kept saying as we went through his stuff, "This could be useful," and I kept saying, "But we don't have room in the car for that." He moved out of his apartment and we left a lot of things in a storage room in Florida. We also dropped off a large box of summer clothes at his dad's in Pennsylvania to give us a little more room in the car and so we could legitimately say that he moved things there. The problem is that he is on "implied status" since we just applied for an extension, and we won't likely have an answer until the end of June. In the meantime, he hasn't got many summer clothes and he loses his visitor status if he goes to the States during this time (and could even have trouble after he gets his extension). So, don't bring too many clothes, but try to bring some for various weather conditions.
2. I just heard that if you want to stay for 6 months in Canada that it is reccomended that you not
inform the agent that you intend to stay that long and to simply apply for an extension after you crossed
the border. Anyone else hear this? Please share some of your experiences.
Always be honest. If they feel that you are lying, being evasive, or hiding something, they have the authority to ban you from visiting Canada for up to 2 years. That being said, if a U.S. citizen is coming for a short visit and it is clear that they will return back to their home and job etc. afterwards, they will usually be given 6 months. This is normally indicated by the passport stamp, but it's not quite as well documented when it comes to requesting an extension, so they will normally issue a VR if they think you might later be asking for an extension.