2:05pm

Tue June 18, 2013
Tourism

Allowing Canadians to stay in U.S. 2 more months "a shot in the arm"

Older Canadians will be able to spend more time in the United States under a proposal floated by New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer.

Right now, Canadians can stay in the U.S. up to six months. Many retired Canadians use up that time at winter homes in the Southwest or Florida.

By creating a retiree visa that would allow for eight months spent south of the border, Schumer is hopeful it will translate into more short trips to places closer to the Canadian border, like the Finger Lakes region.

Gannett's Brian Tumulty has this as the origins of the proposal:

The impetus for the change came from the Canadian Snowbird Association based in Toronto, which estimates Canadian snowbirds made 1.08 million trips to the U.S. in 2011. The association defines a Canadian snowbird as someone 55 or over who spends 31 or more consecutive days in the U.S.

"Some of them have houses in Florida and then if they stay the maximum amount of time at their house in Florida in the winter they can’t cross the border to come for the weekend and drink the wines and shop in the stores and do all the nice things here," Schumer said during a stop in Syracuse Monday.

He says the program would be "a shot in the arm" for upstate New York's economy, given the retirees disposable income.

The proposal is an amendment to the immigration bill being debated currently in Congress. It has bipartisan support.

Here's some more from Canadian news service Forever Young News:

Canadian Snowbird Association president Bob Slack had good news to pass on to CSA members at southern gatherings in Florida, Texas and Arizona in January and February. Whereas currently U.S. immigration inspectors are allowed to exercise discretion and may allow snowbirds to stay in the U.S. for a maximum six months a year under the B-2 pleasure tourist visa, the new Canadian Retiree Visa would offer a better deal, more certainty and a longer stay.

The new deal appears to be coming together quickly, with bi-partisan support so far in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The CSA just approached legislators last year and by Oct. 20, New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D.) had introduced the bill into the Senate, supported by Senator Mike Lee (R.) of Utah. The initiative was similarly introduced to the House soon afterwards. In both cases, judiciary committees are now studying details and will debate the proposal in the spring, says CSA executive director Michael Mackenzie.