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Forever Young Information

Canada's Adult Lifestyle Publication

Canadian Retiree Visa would permit 8-month U.S. stay

By Don Wall, FYI National Editor
March 13, 2012 - 113 comments

 When both sides involved in negotiations agree on the principle issues, it makes for quick work. That seems to be the case as representatives of the Canadian Snowbird Association hammer out details of a proposed Canadian Retiree Visa with accommodating U.S. legislators.

Canadian Snowbird Association president Bob Slack had good news to pass on to CSA members at southern gatherings in Florida, Texas and Arizona in January and February. Whereas currently U.S. immigration inspectors are allowed to exercise discretion and may allow snowbirds to stay in the U.S. for a maximum six months a year under the B-2 pleasure tourist visa, the new Canadian Retiree Visa would offer a better deal, more certainty and a longer stay.

The new deal appears to be coming together quickly, with bi-partisan support so far in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The CSA just approached legislators last year and by Oct. 20, New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D.) had introduced the bill into the Senate, supported by Senator Mike Lee (R.) of Utah. The initiative was similarly introduced to the House soon afterwards. In both cases, judiciary committees are now studying details and will debate the proposal in the spring, says CSA executive director Michael Mackenzie.

Slack explained the basics of the proposed visa in a speech given at the Snowbird Extravaganza held Feb. 14 and 15 in Mesa, Arizona and in a subsequent interview to FYI in Mesa.

“If passed, the Visit USA Act would allow Canadians over the age of 50, and their spouses, and their dependent children, to have a visit which lasts 240 days, and would be renewable every three years,” Slack said. “That would essentially extend the maximum of time we spend in the US from six months to eight months in a 12-month period, the only criteria being that you are able to demonstrate that you are over 50, and that you either own a home in the United States or have purchased rental or hotel accommodation for the duration of your stay. You would also not be permitted to work in the United States for the duration of your stay.

“Frankly, I think those are very reasonable terms.”

The CSA’s Mackenzie explains, “It is important to note that a (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol) officer may elect – for any reason – to admit you for a period less than six months. This is not a debatable or negotiable point. It is their right to admit you for whatever period – not exceeding the maximum – which the CBP officer considers appropriate.

“The retiree visa would immediately allow qualified Canadians to spend eight months instead of six months on an individual trip and would also ease the burden of re-admittance to the United States during the summer months for those qualified Canadians who opt to spend less than the full eight months on one individual trip.”

Besides visas, the companion issue that requires vigilance by Canadians is retaining eligibility for health care coverage back home. Since that is a provincial jurisdiction, Slack acknowledges that the CSA has to stay active lobbying on the many regional fronts to ensure that Canadians maintain health coverage during extensive trips outside of the province. Each province has its own rules.

“That is a negotiation that we will have to start with provinces,” Slack said. “The province of Ontario allows us to be out of the province seven months. That allows us to take trips to B.C. or to Newfoundland in the summer if we stay out (as a snowbird in the U.S.) six months. Other provinces say, go ahead, stay out six months and we don’t mind if you stay out another month. But we will have to start negotiations with the provincial governments with regard to the amount of time.”

It was logical for a politician in a border state such as New York’s Schumer to support the proposed Canadian Retiree Visa, Slack says, because adding an extra month or two of travel time to the calendar of a Canadian means they can take shorter side trips into his state.

Slack said meetings with legislators in Washington have been positive – surprisingly so.

“They even took the bill and made it simpler,” said Slack. “We had an income level in there but they said, if you own a place and you are over 50 and you don’t work, and if you have enough emergency medical insurance so that you are not a drain on the system, (that’s adequate). They really just took a few brief points from the bill that we suggested to them.

“The people involved in the judiciary committees are very positive with regard to this going forward very quickly, so we are very optimistic with what’s happening.”

REPORT CARD: The Canadian Snowbird Association released a "report card" in 2009 that analyzed various provincial regulations with regard to travelling outside of the province and maintaining health care eligibility, and other issues. Download it HERE.

Comments

March 31, 2012
Joy Zerke said:

Great work Canadian Snowbird Association")

May 9, 2012
Matt Sletto said:

I like how the Snowbird Association is taking credit for this somehow.

May 16, 2012
Bill Holden said:

It is now May 16, 2012. Is there any indication of a possible date this could be in force? Possible for 2012 - 2013 season?

May 18, 2012
cheryl said:

Wow this all sounds good...but what about the border patrol who is having a bad day and decides to not let you back in??? How can this be allowed?? Please explain.

May 23, 2012
Lou Morin said:

Where do join?

Having eight months in Arizona would be akin to receiving manna from heaven!

June 1, 2012
Darlene said:

What can we all do to help speed up the process? We old people represent a lot of the voting population......I guess a letter to our federal and provincial representatives would help......

June 24, 2012
Greg Mueller said:

how close are we tro seeing this happen, & where is it in the American system.

June 24, 2012
Greg Mueller said:

What is current situation in passing the law. How soon can it happen? or wiil it happen?

June 24, 2012
Greg Mueller said:

If approved in say , July, when would the program take effect, 2012 or 2013 ?

July 9, 2012
Greg Mueller said:

Is there anything new, or movement on the bills?
What are the chances of passage in 2012 ?

July 12, 2012
Terry Doyle said:

We will be returning to Arizona on Oct 3. Any chance that this would be in place before we leave. If it is approved after this date would we be able to stay for the eight months.

August 5, 2012
Fran Read said:

I was told that we canadians need to be in Canada for at least 5 months to retain our medical (OHIP)..how will this work??

August 17, 2012
Kathy said:

Very interested to know if & when the bill passes. Where can I follow it's progress

September 18, 2012
Laurie said:

Has this bill passed? Can we stay 240 days now?

September 21, 2012
THE EDITOR said:

Keep reading FYI for updates - the last suggestion from the Canadian Snowbird Association is that the visa legislation may be considered by the House and Senate during the lame-duck period after the November elections.

September 22, 2012
Jim Anderson said:

Great folks keep up the great work

September 27, 2012
Jeannette said:

I hope the bill passes but it no help for the Nova Scotians. We are only allowed out of province for 6 months, or else we loose our Health Care back home.

October 22, 2012
Doreen Posmituk said:

I hope we are going to be kept updated on this new bill. Would be wonderful if it did happen. Very interested to know the progress.

December 1, 2012
ALAN MEACHAM said:

CAN WE STAY 8 MONTHS THEN TAKE A BUS ACROSS THE BORDER AND RETURN MINUTES LATER

December 1, 2012
ALAN MEACHAM said:

IF WE BUY INVEST 500.000 IN LAND HOUSE, SAME THING, WITH THE NEW BILL COMING, CAN I STAY 8 MONTHS TURN AROUND AFTER ONE DAY AND COMEBACK IN,

February 19, 2013
Ken Davidson said:

would love to see this law passed and the time frame in which it could happen
also how it would work in regards to alberta health care , 6 months out of province

February 25, 2013
fredlatremouille said:

Please include me on your mailing list and good work!!

February 26, 2013
Hugh Swinton said:

With the 6 month stay limit we find ourselves traveling in bad weather in both spring and fall. The 8 month limit will solve that problem and allow us to have summer trips to the northern states. I would love to be updated on progress in the negotiations. Keep up the good work.

March 3, 2013
sam said:

There are 2 additional issues that I don't see being discussed:
1. US Immigration has a maximum of 6 months per calendar year and per visit. But the IRS also has a 6 month limit. Even if you stay 6 months, you have to claim a closer tie to Canada on the 8840 form. So even if you get an 8-month US Visa, what about the 6 month IRS restriction?

2. This seems to be focused on people who take 3 days to get to Florida, stay in their rented or purchased condo for 6 months and then drive home in 3 days. Easy enough to provide the address.

But what about RVers? Sure, some of them do the same - 3 days to somewhere, park for 6 months, then 3 days home. But what about those of us who spend 2 months to get somewhere, park for 2 months, then 2 months to get home? I can give an address for the 2 months we're parked in the middle of winter, but not for the 2+2=4 months spent travelling around and seeing the sights.

March 12, 2013
Stella said:

The March 3 post from Sam hits a very important issue -- that's the tax issue. If the tax laws aren't changed you would have to file tax returns in both countries and pay taxes to both countries -- while there are provisions that allow for a tax credit for tax paid to the "other" country -- it still results in much higher taxes on income, as your world income must be reported on both returns. I don't see this being addressed??

April 3, 2013
Maggie said:

Hi,
My husband and I are snowbirds and wanting to stay in the Us longer.
Has the bill been passed for the retiree visa?

Thanks for all the information you have posted here

Anxiously waiting to hear the good news

Maggie

April 8, 2013
Keith said:

I sure wish the Canadian Snowbirds Association would have an up-to-date "situation" window on the website on this VERY important issue. It is so hard to find out what the status is on the Retired Canadians part of the VISIT USA Act. All the news here in the USA is focussed on the illegal immigrants issue. A web search found only information that is months old.
Personally, we would be happy with a 7-month VISA, enabling us to leave right after CanadianThanksgiving and returning to Canada about April 25th.
We would also consider 1-2 week trips to other parts of the USA (e.g. Grand Canyon Tour) if we were not so afraid of our situation vis-a-vis (good expression, eh?) the 6-months less a day verbal visia. THe USA is losing out on millions and millions of tourist dollars every year as it is now. You would think their position would be "Where do we sign?"

April 9, 2013
A. Marshall said:

Hi, This is very interesting news. We are British, will this visa also apply to us?

April 21, 2013
Christina said:

Sam & Stellas are right on! The IRS has its' substantial presence test to determine if foreign nationals (including snowbirds) are to be considered a U.S. resident alien or non resident alien for tax filing purposes. Google: Substantial Presence Test for Snowbirds and see the other implications and requirements that obligate Snowbirds who are here 183 days or more (see formula - affects those being in U.S. more than 4 months avg. each year), to file at least a 8840 form if not a U.S. tax return with the IRS. If you meet substantial presence for the current tax year and do no file you can be fined!! Ignorance is not bliss and no excuse for not knowing the requirements...
Nice work CSA on seeking a retiree visa that allows 8 months in the U.S., but how will this affect snowbirds for Tax purposes with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service? Presently under the substantial presence test, at least, Canadians need to be able to prove that they have a "closer connection" to their home land when filing the 8840 form. With 6 months in home land this is possible. There is a lengthy form that asks specific questions... with the proposed increased time allowable for snowbirds in the U.S. it will muddy the waters and you could pay taxes to both countries. What are you doing to address this very real and current Tax implication issue for Canadian Snowbirds? It appears that we Can't have our cake and eat it too!

April 22, 2013
cheryle gardner said:

What wonderful news... thanks to the CSA.. you rock ....hopefully this passes and us with ex: arthiritis.. can spend all the cold winter months , south .
yes i agree we need to comply with the tax issue.. as well as the insurance issue .. but where there is associations like CSA.. there is hope...

thanks

May 5, 2013
Norm Proulx said:

Great information. Thank you.
we have purchased a mobile home in Hudson God.

We hope that the visa situation gets resolved by this fall.

It would be great to stay the 8 months.

Please keep in touch.

Best regards,

Norm

May 14, 2013
StolenYouth said:

More age restrictions for the younger generation. Surprise Surprise. Why not allow Canadians 20-50 to apply for permanent residency in the USA and restrict anyone 50+ to your 6 month stay. You've done a good job of driving up Canadian Real Estate to a point where its unaffordable for young buyers....while racking us up a nice debt .... so we decided to limit your stay in our new southern communities to six months. haha . Freedom 85... back to work for you Gramps ! Oh yeah did we tell you, we're taking your pension & RRSP's too. Babyboomers, hope your wheelchairs make the trip down them stairs! Opportunity knocks.....you out at the bottom..lol

May 14, 2013
Ken Neufeld said:

Would this new situation involve getting a visa and a lot of paper work?

May 22, 2013
Alan Baggett said:

Canada: Beware Of The US "Snowbird Visa TAX BOMB!"

Last Updated: May 16 2013 - Article by Roy Berg

http://www.mondaq.com/canada/x/239494/Income+Tax/Beware+Of+The+US+Snowbird+Visa+TAX+BOMB&email_access=on?goback=%2Egmp_3982304%2Egde_3982304_member_242793904

The current immigration bill pending before the US Congress contains provisions that will make it easier for Canadians and retirees to obtain non-immigrant status in the US. If the bill becomes law, these people will be able to obtain a "Snowbird Visa," which will entitle the visa holder to be physically present in the US for a period of 240 days. The Canadian press has been agog with articles and commentary on the virtues of the proposed law, but few have addressed the explosive US tax consequences that might befall those who would obtain one of these visas. We refer to this as the "Snowbird Visa TAX BOMB."

May 22, 2013
Mike Spear said:

We currently live in Osoyoos BC, and travel regularly to the USA during the summer for shopping and leisure. We spend 4 months in Palm Springs and it would be nice to stay longer.

Thanks for all the efforts from the CSA.
Mike

May 25, 2013
Lyle Moffatt said:

Unless there has been a change in Immigration laws since I was a Manager with Canada Immigration and have worked the Canada/US Border there was an agreement with the US that Canadians were allowed undocumented to enter the United States. That undocumented entry, unless restricted, meant that they were allowed to remain for 183 days. This was the policy by which entry was granted to Canadian Citizens and United States Citizens to Canada. It was provided for in the Immigration law of both countries.

This 183 days was technically in place for each entry unless restricted. If an individual indicated that they were staying for 3 weeks and the officer restricted that visit it was for three weeks, otherwise when one entered the United States or Canada it was for the period of 183 days.

If an individual was in the US for say 1 month visit and 3 months later requested entry and unless restricted and granted entry it was for 183 days.

I believe that this is still in place, except for the rules that Clinton brought in, in 1995, which has caused all the problems giving Customs Officers authority that they never had before and was never used until after 9/11.

We were always able to make formal application for an extended visitors visa which was an I94 that would allow us to stay beyond the 183 days but had to be surrendered upon departing the US or you had problems when you sought to enter next time.

This new extension as I envision it without seeing the legislation should work the same way, unless the US wishes to issue I94 to those who qualify under the age 50 and above program.

June 8, 2013
Marny douglas said:

We as many others own a home in a warm part of the United states. The one thing this new visa will do for us is it will enable us to travel without the fear of snow. Whether we stay 6_7_or the full 8months we can do it without the fear of missing the dreaded 182 day limit and if you desire to take weekend trips shopping or visiting while home in the summer months you can do so. This extra time would allow you to do this without the hassle of reducing your time in the south. Great going and let's get it done, after retirement there is little time left so allow us old guys to live out our life as we wish, whether it be here or there. Let it be our choice as long as we can afford it.

June 8, 2013
Tom said:

What great news. I am a Canuk that has lived my whole life as a Canadian. I have lead a clean life and worked hard for my future. I have invested my earnings in Canada, bought a home here and raised children here. For 70 years Canada has been my home and will always be. Now I live with cancer, have had a heart attack and am riddled with arthritis so pass this bill so I can spend my last few years where I don't hurt as much. This will allow our children to visit us as they would have a longer time to choose on when to visit without having to spend spring break prices as everyone is traveling at the same time. I could go on but you get the picture let us live our lives.

June 10, 2013
mina said:

Great job CSA! please update me.

Best regards,
Mina

June 11, 2013
Mikem said:

According to the tracking for the proposed Bill the "Status" of this bill states that this Bill - "Died"
So it's back to 6 months unless they do some sort of amendment and then raise it again

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/s1746

June 11, 2013
Mikem said:

The original bill "Died" but the amended Bill will be debated June 11th and according to the "Bills tracking" it has a 27% of being passed.
Seems it's lumped in with "immigration reform" and it's doubtful it will pass

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/s744

June 17, 2013
Tom said:

Now what? . Has the amend. Died as well again or are they still debating?

June 25, 2013
Jim Bowie said:

Does anyone out there have any updated info? The Canadian Snowbird Association seems to offer nothing new!

June 27, 2013
Mikem said:

The Bill is before the Senate and it should be passed, probably this week. Then the Bill goes to the Republican dominated Senate where there will be a lot of arguing, compromise etc. They will demand a tradeoff of extra border guards, drones etc on the southern border.
So the Bill will eventually pass but could take some time. Don't forget that the "Canadian retiree" Para is one tiny part of this Immigration Reform Bill

July 5, 2013
Michel Marcotte said:

Merci a la Canadian Snowbird Association. Je souhaite que ce bill seraapprouve tres bientot. Ce changement me permettra de visiter mes amis WDC et NJ et aussi de me rendre chez moi en Floride durand l'ete meme si j'ai passe 6 mois en Floride durand l'hiver.

Thanks agai to the Canadian Snowbirds Association

Michel

July 11, 2013
Jeanne said:

Thank you CSA. I love you. I always was so sad when the love of my like had to leave me because of the six month thing. I am so happy now!

August 29, 2013
John mckenzie said:

Would like an update when this is likely to take place.will we have a special visa to travel with.appreciate any info you can give.

Yours truly
John mckenzie

August 30, 2013
Alisande said:

Now would you please ask Canada to extend the same rights to US retirees? I would love to buy a small home in Victoria and live there 8 months a year.

September 17, 2013
Bob Wilford said:

As of Sept 17/2013, how long are we allowed to stay in the USA? Any updates?

September 18, 2013
Editor's update said:

As of now, the status quo prevails, which is still six months permitted by the US. The immigration bill that contains the Canadian extended-stay 240-day visa was approved by the Senate and is now before the US House but it is uncertain if this will be approved – the bill has a wide variety of controversial measures so its fate is uncertain.

Don Wall
National Editor
FYI Forever Young Information
Empty Nest, Southbound

October 20, 2013
Louis said:

With the House of Representatives being republican dominated and the Senate being Democrat dominated and the debt ceiling debate being postponed to Jan/Feb, it is hardly likely that the Immigration bill, of which the " snowbird visa" is only a minuscule part, will even make it back to the floor for discussion.
U.S. Tax implications are another matter entirely and can have serious ramifications for Canadians.

October 20, 2013
Louis said:

With the House of Representatives being republican dominated and the Senate being Democrat dominated and the debt ceiling debate being postponed to Jan/Feb, it is hardly likely that the Immigration bill, of which the " snowbird visa" is only a minuscule part, will even make it back to the floor for discussion.
U.S. Tax implications are another matter entirely and can have serious ramifications for Canadians.

November 7, 2013
Valerie Wheaton said:

I am following this very closely. I am a Retired Canadian citizen and I wish to be able to live permanently in the states or for as many months as possible with my US partner who has his own home there. Question. Should I apply for Permanent Residency, or go straight ahead and just apply for US citizenship? Is there any type of Permanent Residency Visa for a retired Canadian, and if by any chance I am accepted as a US citizen, do I have to relinquish my Canadian citizenship! or can I keep dual citizenship? Anyone who can give me some information on this, I would be very
glad to hear from you. Thank you

February 15, 2014
Jim McBane Sr said:

Please advise where I can get applications for the NEW , Visa if available ?

Regards,

Jim McBane Sr.

April 9, 2014
sam said:

To make life much more simple and stop all this craving of Canadians wanting to stay longer or to move to a warmer climate is to have U.S join Canada or vica versa and become #1 as an American nation...be one nation same currency and have who ever wants to live in the U.S be free to go and who wants to live in Canada they are also free to go...I think Canadas population would decrease 30%...it's too cold in Canada and when hot its too humid.
The U.S would thrive economically if more Canadians move there instead Canada and the U.S allow poor dead beats to move right in and live off the wealthy.

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