Forever Young Information

Canada's Adult Lifestyle Publication

Canadian Retiree Visa would permit eight month US stay

By Don Wall, FYI National Editor
April 12, 2012 - 52 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, 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.”


July 16, 2012
Now to convince Quebec said:

I have been waiting for this to happen ever since I retired 13 Years ago.
I have worked hard all My life and would like to have the freedom to spend Winters in Florida, And to Visit My American Daughter in Chicago during the Summer.

July 16, 2012
Mireille Blain said:

This would be wonderful. After all if you have worked all your life, why not be able to stay longer. You have a place to live, both sides, and you are not working. I believe that all of us SNOWBIRDS deserve it.

July 17, 2012
mary lou lalonde said:

Isn't that going to cost the prov. more money for medical? especially Quebec
without the help of the province none of us can get medical for the extra time. Is there any feed back from the Quebec province?

July 17, 2012
George A. Bevan said:

Any Ontario geriatric who tries this, before the Province extends health coverage to eight months with no penalty, would be risking loss of basic OHIP coverage from day 181. He/she would have to spend 90 days back in Ontario after his/her return date to requalify for OHIP coverage. That's a pretty severe penalty and hardly worth the risk.
Similarly many pension plans include 60 day travel supplementary health coverage [principally repatriation provisions], why not take on insurance company pension providers to lift such restrictions to all countries to coincide with newly proposed provisions? 17/07/12

July 21, 2012
drv/le voyageur said:

any one can tell me how usa days trip in this contry are count ? / from when to when in a year priod? {in quebec it is Jan to Jan } thanks

July 31, 2012
Brian Cooney said:

It's about time,...still have home province time-line restrictions, however a step in the right direction.
What is the current status of the Retiree US Visa with our neighbours to the south. I've heard nothing new for months....???

August 1, 2012
gerard pelletier said:

For Quebec it is 183 days not counting the day of departure and the day of return so 185Days.
But if you exceed that and have received treatment while you were in Quebec Quebec Health insurance will ask you to pay them back for that ( year you have been of of the province ): not only in USA but any province for stay longer then 21 days in a row.)

August 6, 2012
Greg Mueller said:

Anything new on movement of bills thru congress & senate?
Thanks Tom

October 5, 2012
Lori said:

As all the snowbirds have left or getting ready to leave any new updates for our length of stay in the USA. I live in Alberta

October 22, 2012
Jack said:

What is the current status of this legislation? A guest on Money Talk today said, I believe in error, that we would have to buy a $500,000 house in USA to qualify, that's not what I have seen in the proposed. Spreading mis-information?

December 12, 2012
Reg said:

I think this great , but have concerns regarding income tax. If we stay in the USA more than 180 days then are we not then considered resident Alien in the eyes of the IRS? And by the way Ontario allows 7 month out of province.

January 2, 2013
Don Roskamp said:

Congratulations on your positive efforts to enhance Canadians residing in USA. Bob Slack and his CSA representatives spearheading this initiative deserve our support and "vote of confidence"

January 29, 2013
Steve said:

Any updates on this bill? Are there any provisions for us snowbirds in the new immigration reforms being debated in congress now?

February 2, 2013
Lynda Langdon said:

Is the Canadian Retirement Visa application still alive and kicking after this election??

February 5, 2013
Steve said:

Looks like the lack of interest here in this forum tells us the bill is dead. Oh we'll, any ideas to get a legal extension over 6 months? Maybe a night school course to extend?

February 8, 2013
Don Wall, Editor said:

As of Feb. 8, it appears that the retiree visa provision contained in the Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel (“JOLT”) Act proposed by NY Senator Chuck Schumer stalled in the committee stage and was not approved, according to Library of Congress records. FYI has calls in to Schumer's office to confirm that. So at present, the six-month limit for Canadians would appear to be still in place. FYI will update the website upon obtaining further information.

February 19, 2013
Don Wall, Editor said:

Here is the latest news:
FYI has confirmed that the Canadian Retiree Visa provision contained in the Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel (“JOLT”) Act proposed by NY Senator Chuck Schumer stalled in the committee stage and was not approved before the end of the 2011-2012 session of Congress.
The provision would have permitted Canadian snowbirds who met various qualifying conditions to stay in the U.S. for up to eight months. Absent the visa, the current six-month limit will continue.
Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA) executive director Michael Mackenzie said Schumer has committed to reintroducing the measure in the current session.

March 16, 2013
ada bouganim said:

i am canadien live in quebec and my spouses is israeli. can he come with me to live
for 8 monthes in u.s ?

March 30, 2013
F.B.M. said:

I wouldn't think the U.S. Gov. would go for the 8 month visa. Would that not mean that your primary residence is now in the U.S. rather than Canada?

I can't see the Canadian Gov. sanctioning an idea like that either. The largest class of people with the most disposable income are retirees. Why would they want all that money going elsewhere? Canada is in an economic slump. I would think they would want their retired citizens to be spending of that money at home?

April 25, 2014

My common law spouse is an American citizen and I am a Canadian citizen. Would I be eligible for an extended visa if I don't own property there? He is a homeowner in the U.S. and I am a homeowner in Canada. Currently we go back and forth and it is difficult.

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