Lately, I’ve been flying to the States a lot because my boyfriend lives in Maryland. The first few times were easy. The customs agents asked me the same questions I was used to from crossing the border on day trips to Vermont: where I’m from, where I’m going, how long I’m staying, and whether I have anything to declare. With the airport, add a passport check.
Then, a couple times ago, the agent got mad at me because I hadn’t filled out my boyfriend’s full address on the little customs form. I hadn’t had it memorized! Luckily I found it in my address book, which I don’t normally bring with me. But then he asked me how I met my boyfriend, and what he does for a living. Why? How can that matter? And then, when I answered his next question, about my current occupation, with the obviously threatening word “student”, it got worse. Where? What school? What program? Show me your school ID!
Luckily I actually had it with me, because usually I remove all my extra cards from my wallet before traveling. But the school only issues an ID that’s good for one year, and I have to go back each semester for a little sticker to show I’m still a student. Because this was my internship semester and I was in the hospital all the time instead of school, I hadn’t gotten around to it. I explained that to him, but he gave me such a look that I was starting to feel guilty despite having done nothing at all. I was shaking, thinking he was going to tell me I couldn’t go.
I asked what would happen if I didn’t have my ID at all, and his answer was “I need proof you’re a student, or proof of gainful employment”.
What gives? If I’m unemployed, can’t I go visit family in the States? And now that I’m not a student anymore, because I graduated, what the heck is proof of gainful employment? A pay stub? A hospital ID? Should I bring my boss along?