A trip of a lifetime has turned into holiday hell for one Australian traveller who has found himself in an American jail cell after overstaying his visa by a matter of hours.
Baxter Reid, a 26-year-old former Australian Army worker from Canberra, was in the United states with his American girlfriend Heather Kancso while on a five-year US visa.
One of the requirements of the visa was to exit the country every six months. Reid and his girlfriend were attempting to cross the US-Canada border in upstate New York before the visa would expire at midnight on the 24th of April.
But the border crossing took longer than the couple had anticipated, with Reid being held up with Canadian border patrol officers for hours.
“As we approached the border, the people working border patrol started giving us a bit of a hard time,” Reid’s girlfriend Kancso said on theGoFundMe page created to raise funds for legal costs.
“They spent hours asking us remedial questions and giving us the run around, with hours of dead time in between.”
Reid was then sent to the US border patrol who was technically considered to be violating his visa conditions, albeit by an hour.
Kancso and each of the couple’s families are banding together to raising money for legal fees.
“We are just trying to guarantee that he is not deemed a criminal – especially after how hard we tried to follow the law,” Kancso said.
The travel community have had mixed responses to Reid’s situation, some sympathetic to his experiences, while others less so.
“The laws [sic], law,” says Megan from New Zealand.
“[He was] too relaxed,” agrees Monique from Monaco.
“You can’t wait until the last few hours to restart your visa, try to go to Canada to restart your US visa, get held up by border control in Canada for four hours, sent back to the US when Canada doesn’t want to accept you and then get mad! He could’ve left last week.”
Another traveller, Libby, on the other hand, says these things should be assessed case by case.
“I hope that cool heads prevail and he is released immediately,” she says.
“I don’t know why Canada didn’t let him in, so he’ll need to go elsewhere, but jail for 1.5 hours is excessive.
“I can’t imagine the cost involved in keeping him locked up for this.”
This article originally appeared on Starts At 60.