The Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA)that is one of the leading resources for Canadians that spend half the year in the United States has been pressing for changes in how long Canadians can stay in the United States. It has been meeting with American Senators and Members of Congress according to some news sources to promote U.S. legislation that is currently winding its way through Congress that would allow Canadians aged 55 and older to spend up to 240 days or approximately eight months, in the country without a visa, 58 days longer than the current 182-day annual limit. There are two proposed laws currently in play. The provision is not yet law, but it has the backing of powerful New York Sen. Charles Schumer.
The two proposed laws are different. For instance, Mr. Schumer’s bill applies to Canadians 55 and older, while the other bill applies to those age 50 and older. Both allow for a spouse to stay under the same rules. There are some stumbling blocks for Canadians regarding the longer stays that have to do with health care coverage many provinces in Canada still require six months of residency for health-care coverage.
Both bills would require vacationers to maintain a residence in Canada, and either own a home in the U.S. or sign a rental agreement for the duration of their stay. The visitors would be forbidden from working in the U.S. or claiming welfare. In Ontario, B.C. and Manitoba, for example, Canadians can spend a maximum of seven months outside the country each year if they wish to maintain their health coverage. Other provinces set the limit at six months. Some provinces grant exemptions, including New Brunswick, where residents can apply to leave for of up to 18 months every three years. The snowbirds’ group is pushing for all provinces to extend health coverage for eight-month absences. In many other provinces, including Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, the limit is the equivalent of six months.