Australian to be locked up for at least another week after overstaying US visa by one hour

Heather Kancso has started a fundraising page to try to free Baxter Reid. Photo/Facebook
Heather Kancso has started a fundraising page to try to free Baxter Reid. Photo/Facebook

The girlfriend of the Australian man detained in the US for overstaying his visa by one hour has expressed her anguish as his ordeal stretches into a second week.

Baxter Reid, formerly of Canberra and Sydney, is likely to remain locked up in an upstate New York detention centre for at least another seven days after being arrested on the Canadian border on April 24.

The 26-year-old's American girlfriend, Heather Kancso, is fighting for him not to be deported back to Australia with a criminal record.

"It's been 10 days and this is ridiculous," she told news.com.au in New York City.

"The whole situation feels very surreal. I want this nightmare to be over."

Reid, who has served in the Australian Army, moved to the US in October, after meeting Miss Kancso more than a year ago.

His five-year visa stipulates that he needs to leave and re-enter the country every six months for it to remain valid.

The couple intended to fulfil the visa requirement by taking a trip to Canada to visit a friend.

What would usually be a seven-hour drive from New York City to Buffalo ended up taking 15 hours because their car broke down.

Regardless, they made it to the Canadian border by 10pm on Sunday, April 23, two hours before the visa deadline.

"By that time, we were extremely exhausted and hungry and looking to get to our friend's house and continue on with our lives," she said.

However, Canadian authorities spent hours questioning Reid before eventually refusing him entry and sending him back to the US border patrol.

By that point, Reid had technically overstayed his visa by about an hour - and was arrested by US authorities about 1.30am on April 24.

"We were both completely shocked," Kancso said.

"I couldn't stop crying as soon as they put him in handcuffs."

The ordeal has been an ongoing nightmare for Kancso, who has returned to New York City to resume her job as a hair stylist.

"In the six months I've been living and travelling with him, this is the longest we've been apart, she said.

"I would trade places with him in a heartbeat.

"Baxter is one of the most amazing human beings. He's happy and positive, and always there to help and always has a smile on his face."

Heather Kancso says her boyfriend Baxter Reid is a 'beam of light that could make anyone crack a smile, even on their loneliest days'. Photo/Facebook
Heather Kancso says her boyfriend Baxter Reid is a 'beam of light that could make anyone crack a smile, even on their loneliest days'. Photo/Facebook

Kancso said he had been especially helpful in recent months as her mother and father each dealt with health issues.

"He is always offering a helping hand in every way that he can. He would help them to pack things up or take out the trash, or make breakfast.

"He is one of those people that goes above and beyond. He has a beautiful soul."

Kancso has been overwhelmed by the support she has received from Australians after setting up a GoFundMe page to raise money for his legal representation.

"Because of bureaucracy and an unwillingness to listen to him, he is being charged as a felon under random immigration laws," she wrote on the page.

"Imagine going out of your way to comply with the law and having the people who are meant to uphold it sabotage you and turn you into the criminal."

More than 190 people have donated to the cause in four days. The fundraising goal of $8000 had been exceeded by more than $1000 as of Thursday morning, which Kancso said was "unbelievable".

"The response people have shown and the sympathy towards our situation is incredible," she told news.com.au.

"It's a cliched word, but 'thank you'; we really want to show both of our gratitude."

Reid will remain locked up at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility until his case goes before court next Wednesday.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to an Australian man detained in the United States, in accordance with the Consular Services Charter," DFAT said in a statement.

"Owing to privacy obligations, we cannot provide further details."

- news.com.au

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