AN AUSTRALIAN man is being held in a detention centre in the United States after being arrested for overstaying his visa by "a single hour".
Baxter Reid, 26, and his American girlfriend Heather Kancso, were attempting to leave and re-enter the US via Canada on April 23 to fulfil the requirements of his five-year US visa.
But because the former Australian Army worker was delayed by hours of questioning by Canadian border authorities, he stayed less than two hours too long in the US, prompting his arrest.
Mr Reid is currently being held in Buffalo Federal Detention Centre and could be jailed for six months until his case is heard by a judge, Fairfax reports.
His girlfriend Ms Kancso has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to cover Mr Reid's legal costs.
Ms Kancso said in order to keep his visa valid, Mr Reid had to exit and re-enter the US every six months.
So on April 23 the couple drove to the Canadian border in upstate New York before his visa was due to expire at midnight on April 24.
But as they approached the border, Ms Kancso said Canadian border officials began to give the couple "a bit of a hard time".
"They spent hours asking us remedial questions and giving us the run-around, with hours of dead time in between," she said.
"After wasting over four hours there, they [Canadian authorities] sent us to the US border patrol because they refused to let Baxter through.
"The US border patrol ended up taking Baxter away, because after waiting for hours with the Canadians, he technically violated his visa requirements and was illegally in the US for a single hour."
Ms Kancso said border police then arrested Mr Reid and took him to the prison.
"This is a man who has no prior incidents with the law, not in the US or his native Australia," she said.
"Now, because of bureaucracy and an unwillingness to listen to him he is being charged as felon under random immigration laws ... this is going to make a criminal out of an innocent man."
She said the couple's families were raising money to hire an immigration lawyer. The GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $3200 towards its $8000 goal.
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