A bipartisan group of US Senators known as the “Gang of Eight” unveiled their proposed US immigration reform bill. The 844 page document contains what amounts to an overhaul of almost all aspects of the current US immigration system. It is still to be seen how much of the original bill will make it through the US congressional process. As it stands right now, the bill contains numerous changes of particular interest to Canadians.
Encouraging Canadian Tourism to the US
The Gang of Eight took special care in their bill to recognize the contribution that Canadian retirees have been making to the US economy. They have proposed a change to the current 6 month visitor status in the US that Canadians are generally allowed in a rolling 12 month period. In its place they have proposed a change that will allow Canadians over 55 years old to be admitted as visitors to the US for up to 240 days in a rolling 12 month period. The requirements for such admission would be:
- - Canadian citizenship;
- Over the age of 55;
- Maintain a residence in Canada;
- Own or rent a residence in the US;
- Not otherwise inadmissible to the US;
- No intent to work in the US; and
- Will not seek public assistance.
Under the current language of the bill spouses must generally both meet the above requirements, except that the ownership or lease of the US residence may be in the name of only one spouse.
This would mean that Canadian retirees interested in spending more than 6 months a year in the US could do so legally without having to obtain a visa.
US Retiree Visa
Additionally, the Gang of Eight has proposed a Retiree visa that would allow retirees to reside full time in the US on a renewable 3 year visa. To qualify for this 3 year visa the applicant must generally meet the above listed requirements, as well as:
- - Be able to show that he or she has purchased one or more properties in the US worth a combined total of at least $500,000 USD;
- Have US health insurance coverage; and
- Reside in the US for at least 180 days per year.
This Retiree visa would not be the same as permanent residency though, and the recipient would have no right to work in the US. It appears that he or she would also not be eligible for US benefit programs such as US Medicare. It would, however, allow retirees to otherwise remain indefinitely in the US.
rolling 12 month period: once you enter the US, the clock begins and doesn't shut off for 12 months...i.e. not calendar year!