Snowbirds Get More Days in the Sun

It’s a trade-off that’s been happening for years: as soon as the cold weather hits, Canadian winter vacationers cross the border and travel south to enjoy the warm weather the U.S. Sunbelt offers. In return for their fine weather, we spend our loonies (to the tune of $16.5 billion last year) at their resorts, trailer parks, theme parks, golf courses, etc. U.S. legislators like our money – a lot – and are in the process of enacting legislation that would allow snowbirds to lengthen their stays and, they hope, lighten their wallets.

A new immigration bill, the so-called Jobs Originated through Launching Travel Act (Follow JOLT’s progress through U.S. Congress here) contains a clause that would allow Canadians aged 55 50 and up to spend up to 240 days – about eight months – in the U.S. without a visa. That’s 58 days longer than the current 182-day annual limit. The one stipulation seems to be that you must either own a home in the U.S. or show that you’ve signed a rental agreement for the duration of your stay. While prolonging a visit down south means enjoying a warmer climate for a little longer, make sure you check how it may have an impact on your U.S. taxes. It could also affect your Canadian health coverage. Many provinces have set limits – either six or seven months – in which a person can be outside the province before losing their health care. —Peter Muggeridge