Good News for Snowbirds Wanting to Extend their Southern Migration

Every fall, my in-laws pack their bags and head for Florida, where they enjoy the warm weather and white-sand beaches. Every spring, they begrudgingly load up their van, and head back to Northern Ontario, where they settle for the summer. They stay at my house for a day or two each time they pass through. This weekend was their semi-annual stay, and on Saturday morning, they were welcomed with breakfast and view of a fresh coat of late-April snow. It was interesting to see their reaction, and a strange coincidence that the United States Senate is looking for ways to help alleviate this type of weather shock!

A new and interesting piece of legislation has been tabled for review in the United States Senate. It is entitled the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act. One of the provisions of this new act is a proposed Visa for Canadian retirees who spend a fraction of the year in the United States. The new Visa, which is being referred to as the “Canadian Retiree Visa” would allow Canadian snowbirds to spend up to eight months in the United States per year (an increase of two-months from current immigration standards).

Canadian citizens who are 55 years of age or older, who maintain a residence in Canada, who own property in the United States (or have a rental agreement for the duration of their stay in the United States), who will not engage in employment while in the United States, and who will not seek assistance or benefit while in the United States are eligible for this new Visa.

The JOLT Act has only recently been introduced, and as such, there is no timeline for specific creation of the Canadian Retiree Visa; however, this could be welcome news for individuals looking to completely escape prolonged Canadian winters.

It is unclear whether this new Visa will impact an individual’s eligibility for Canadian provincial health plans (i.e. OHIP), or how it will impact a person’s residency determination for income tax purposes. So, in the meantime Canadian snowbirds shouldn’t alter their plans or cease their 8840 filings. Rather, they should keep their ears open. If the JOLT Act is passed, healthcare coverage and income tax considerations will undoubtedly influence a snowbird’s decision to apply.

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