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Work Visas for Canadian Creators

edited January 2014 in On The Road
So in my naivety, a couple of years ago, I attempted to go down to the States to exhibit at a convention. I got politely turned away at the border because I didn't have the proper paperwork.

I know there are other more dubious ways to exhibit, such as shipping books down to your hotel, lying to the border guards and then heading to the convention, but I want to find out what the methods are and which visa you'd if you wanted to do everything by the book.

I've done a little research but the visas that I've seen so far, don't seem to fit what I need (although I will admit that I may not be reading them correctly).

So now I ask, fellow Canadian Comic Creators, which work visa would I need in order to go to conventions to sell my books?

Comments

  • And let's look at that from the reverse: Is there anything Americans need to do to exhibit in Canada, which I'll do in 2014?
  • Great thread idea.  Since I'll have a few boxes of books to cart around in a few months, this'll be handy to know if someone local to the site has answers.

    ~R
  • This is interesting!
  • edited January 2014
    This is the site that I started with: http://www.canadiansinusa.com/Working-in-the-US/index.html

    Russell: This is what I initially found when searching for Americans looking to get visas: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/work.asp (although I don't know if you necessarily need a visa to sell your books in Canada, but you could email someone from the site and they'll be able to help you or direct you to what you need)

    This is really frustrating for us as creators. We aren't exactly a straightforward section of the population. Part retailer, part artist and/or writer.....
  • So I read over the site and I've downloaded pdfs, then I emailed the US embassy in Vancouver. Nothing seems to be very straightforward and the email I received from the embassy gave me the impression that they didn't know how to help as they directed me back to their website! 

    Obviously a lot more digging is involved but I did find this pdf which seemed to be close to what some of us are looking for:

    There are also visas available for writers (which you can find on the Visa site after you do some digging)
  • Nobody applies for visas.

    A friend of mine got busted in Canada for declaring books he had in his luggage that he wanted to sell at TCAF, and then he got busted in the US for not declaring. (Or maybe it was the other way around). Best to keep mum.

    When I went to SDCC I just told the border guards I was 'going to Comicon'. 
    "Oh, you're just a big kid at heart!" STAMP.

    Done.


  • @JasonFranks When you went to SD, did you bring along books to sell? How did you transport them...luggage?
  • @DinoCaruso, I did bring a few books in my luggage but only a small number. Maybe they would have stopped me if it was a whole suitcase full, but I doubt it. 

    If you're worried, ship ahead. That's what I did for SPX. Matt and Caitlin actually ordered a US print run of their books and had them delivered to SPX (with help from the con organizers), saving them big dollars on shipping (which is outrageous from Australia. Shipping costs double the wholesale cost of the books.)



  • @JasonFranks I've talked with Ed and other Vancouver creators before about this. I just wanted to see how feasible it was to do everything by the letter of the law, also so that I don't get turned away at the border again. I think if I were to try it again, I'd just go with a low key display and only say that I was going to visit the states and attend a comic convention.
  • I think that's the best way to do it. 
  • When I drove to Toronto for a signing and a wedding a few years ago, I was prepared to tell the border guard that the two boxes of books in the car were promotional materials to be given away to fans.
  • edited January 2014
    Yeah, I'm just baffled that this is such a hard thing to do completely legally. It really shouldn't be that difficult. Yet, pretty much every creator has to do something "creative" in order to sell their work at conventions across the border. Unless you get an art rep for the country that you are travelling into, or even a friend who can sell your work for you while you are at the convention. So bizarre.

    @RussellLissau that's what a few people I know have done.
  • edited January 2014
    You'd think that with all that NAFTA business that it'd be easy, but for people they still treat the US/Can border more like the Berlin Wall than like the borders within the EU.
  • @JasonAQuest that's because when the terrorist attacks hit in 9/11 they looked at our border as the way the terrorists entered your country so they toughened the northern border controls.

    When I got turned away at the border while I was on my way to a convention, they launched into a lecture on how the US didn't want us coming in and stealing their jobs. Now I understand that circumventing the immigration system is serious business, however, I'm pretty sure that I am the only one who is making this comic.

    Of course, now my mind flashes to me hiring an illegal alien from Mexico as my art rep.
  • NAFTA was set up for the megacorporations, really. Not for the likes of us. Even allowing for the 9/11 Atrocities' impact on US security theatre culture.
  • If you guys were in the EU we'd actively let you in :D Be thankful for tough border control, we could sure use some.
  • @Owen_Jones I'm aaaaaall for security. I'm just annoyed that with all of the bureaucracy in place, a comic creator has to smuggle comics into the US in order to sell them at a convention. 
  • a comic creator has to smuggle comics into the US in order to sell them at a convention. 
    If we can't guard against that, the caricaturists have already won.
  • Wondering if any (loss of) progress has been made on this file. It's been a year and a half...
  • There are special circumstances in place that allow for selling items at trade shows. This gives you some ideas (and I used to have the exact website):
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