Former Australian Army worker arrested in US for overstaying visa by ‘a single hour’

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Policemen simulate an arrest during national security day in Nice, southeastern France, October 10, 2009.
Policemen simulate an arrest during national security day in Nice, southeastern France, October 10, 2009. Reuters/Eric Gaillard

A former Australian Army worker was arrested in the United States for overstaying his visa by “a single hour.” A Canberra man named Baxter Reid was reportedly seized by US border police on Sunday after being denied entry to Canada.

Fairfax reports that Reid is held in Buffalo Federal Detention Centre and could be imprisoned for six months until a judge hears his case. He was travelling with his American girlfriend, Heather Kancso, to the Canadian border in upstate New York before he was imprisoned by immigration officials.

Kancso said Reid had to exit and re-enter the US every six months in order to keep the validity of his visa. On April 23, they drove to the Canadian border before the Australian’s visa expires at midnight on April 24.

But Kancso explained that officials at the Canadian border have them “a bit of a hard time.”“After wasting over four hours there, they [Canadian authorities] sent us to the US border patrol because they refused to let Baxter through,” she said per news.com.au.

Violation for a single hour

According to his girlfriend, the US border patrol opted to take Reid in the prison because he was illegally in the US for a single hour and he technically infringed his visa requirements. Kancso believes that Reid being charged as felon under random immigration laws is making a criminal out of an innocent man, adding that his boyfriend had no prior incidents with the law in Australia and in the US. Now, she reportedly fears that her boyfriend will be criminally charged and barred from re-entering the US.

Reid’s father, Tom, supported Kancso’s statement, saying the Canadians kept the couple waiting for some reasons. "They returned them to the United States and by then they were an hour and a half over the visa, and [he] got locked up,” he told canberratimes.com.au, adding that he hoped his son would be allowed to return to Australia voluntarily.

Tom said they sent money for legal costs while raising more funds through crowd sourcing. Kancso launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for Reid’s defence. News.com.au reported on Tuesday that the campaign had already raised more than $3200. The goal is to raise $8000.

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reportedly confirmed that an Australian man was detained in the US and that they were providing consular assistance. However, they opted to not reveal further details for privacy purposes.

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