Arizona, Florida senators want to extend U.S. visits for Canadian tourists
Democratic Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, along with Republican Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, are sponsoring the Canadian Snowbirds Act.
Lobbyist Shawn Smeallie told the Maricopa Association of Government’s Economic Development Committee Canadian snowbirds average four months a year in Arizona. The bill would extend the time Canadians could visit the U.S. from six to eight months.
“What we expect is that they may not spend the full two months but they’ll probably spend, according to the Canadian Snowbird Association, probably a good month and a half of that,” he said.
The legislation defines a snowbird as maintaining a residence in Canada, not working for a U.S. employer and being at least 50 years old.
“Originally it was going to be 65 and we moved it down to 50, and I think that that’s where people were comfortable with that they wouldn’t come down and perhaps replace Americans in their jobs,” Smeallie said.
The idea has earned bipartisan support going back at least five years. Supporters think there’s a good chance the changes will be included in a budget reconciliation bill before Sept. 30.
A companion bill in the House of Representatives, the Canadian Snowbird Visa Act, is co-sponsored by Republican Arizona Reps. David Schweikert of District 6 and Debbie Lesko of District 8.
Here’s the summary of the House bill:
“This bill authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to admit into the United States qualifying Canadian citizens as long-term nonimmigrant visitors.
A qualifying Canadian citizen is an individual who (1) is at least 50 years old, (2) maintains a Canadian residence, (3) owns a U.S. residence or has rented a U.S. accommodation for the duration of the individual's stay, (4) is not inadmissible or deportable, (5) will not engage in employment or labor for hire in the United States other than for a non-U.S.-based person or entity by whom the Canadian citizen was employed in Canada or for whom the Canadian citizen performed services in Canada, and (6) will not seek certain forms of assistance or benefits.
A qualified individual may be admitted for up to 240 days during any single 365-day period.”