March 17, 2017 — Canadian ‘snowbirds’ who spend their winters in the U.S. will be allowed to stay an extra two months under a new bill introduced in the American House of Representatives.
The bill specifically targets Canadians 55 and over who own or rent a property in the U.S., and would allow them to spend more time in America than Canada, if they so wish.
Currently, ‘snowbirds’ – as they are known – have to count their days carefully to ensure they abide by rules which allow them to spend 180 days a year south of the U.S.-Canadian border.
But under the Promoting Tourism to Enhance Our Economy Act, this would be extended to 240 days for over 55s.
Basic Requirements of ‘Promoting Tourism to Enhance Our Economy Act’
The traveller must:
- Be a citizen of Canada.
- Be at least 55 years of age.
- Maintain a residence in Canada.
- Own a residence in the U.S. or have signed a rental agreement for accommodations in the U.S. for the duration of the stay.
- Not inadmissible or meet any grounds for deportation under U.S. law.
- Not seek any form of assistance or benefit
The bipartisan bill aims to boost the U.S. economy through travel dollars spent by Canadians.
At a time when President Donald Trump is seemingly trying to slam the door shut on as many newcomers as possible, it is a rare example of an attempt to loosen border regulations.
The politicians sponsoring the bill point to the similarities in background between Americans and Canadians, which makes the shift between societies and easy transition.
The benefit they bring to the U.S. economy is significant.
The Canadian Snowbird Association says 700,000 Canada residents spend at least a month in Florida every year, while residents from north of the border own 500,000 Florida properties.
Florida is the most popular destination, but overall more than a million Canadians make the trip to the southern U.S.
The extra days would mean Canadians could spend eight months at a time south of the border, although the more significant benefit is to those who make shorter trips on a regular basis.
Current legislation says that after a six month stay in America, Canadians cannot return for another six months.
There are some obstacles for Canadians, even if the bill becomes law, including potential income tax issues.
Provincial healthcare is also dependent on people living in their province for six months out of every year, while the exchange rate from Canadian to U.S. dollar is currently less than favourable.
Meanwhile, a second piece of legislation — the Canadian Snowbird Visa bill — has also been tabled that lowers the age of the extended stay privilege to 50.
Similar bills have stalled in the past, but the bipartisan support makes U.S. lawmakers hopeful this time around.
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