CSA Travel Information Guide

Spring 2014 CSANews Issue 90  |   Posted date : May 12, 2014.Back to list

Bird talk - Le Jaseur
Dear Bird Talk,
On page 50 of “The CSA Travel Information Guide” 2011 Edition, it says,
“Typical work that may not be performed includes:
In a condominium, mobile home or manufactured home community, receiving “cash” or reduced/free rent and/or maintenance fees for the season in exchange for:
Park office clerical duties
Park grounds maintenance
Park ‘handyman’ repairs ...”
Yet, on page 12 in the “Bird Talk” section of the 2013 winter issue of CSANews, the editor replied to a letter from L.A. Richardson about working in the U.S. as follows:
“Wallace Weylie, CSA’s legal counsel, states that doing anything in the United States for which compensation could be paid, whether paid or not, is considered working. It is illegal for anyone visiting the U.S. to work without a proper visa.” (underlining ours)
Here are our questions:
Do Canadian owners need a work visa to volunteer for grounds maintenance or handyman repairs at the Happy Wanderer RV Park in Indio, CA, or are they exempt as part owners of the common property of the community association?
Do Canadian renters who volunteer here need a work visa?
Lorne and Lynne Dressler

Response:
When the owners of units at the Happy Wanderer RV Park enter the United States, they do so as visitors. A visitor is defined as a person entering the United States for a temporary period of time, having a home in a foreign country to which they intend to return at the end of their period of permitted stay in the U.S. As you can see, there is no mention of that person being permitted to work in the U.S. So what is considered "work"? Now it gets a little fuzzy. We have informed our members that the inspector at the border has 100% discretion as to whether he will allow a person into the U.S. – he is not responsible to anyone else in making that decision. He does not have to account to anybody for his decision. Having that in mind, you can see that it is his interpretation of "work" that governs. No one can tell you what a particular officer is going to say. Working for pay would be an easy one to decide. That is not allowed. In my opinion, doing ground maintenance or handyman repairs could very well be "work" as an American could be hired to do that work and, theoretically, an American is being deprived of that job if the visitor is doing it. There is no exception resulting from ownership of the common property.
How could a problem arise? Two ways come to mind. If one is asked at the border about their activities while in the U.S. and they tell the officer that they did these chores, the officer could consider it "work" and refuse entry to the person. It is not wise to lie to these officials. Or a disgruntled American could report the person doing the chores, to the effect that the person is working in the U.S. It has happened!
A work permit is not easily obtained. Generally, it comes as part of a visa which has been issued after application and meeting certain qualifications for the visa. These are not issued in the abstract. A visitor can never qualify for a work permit. Therefore, that concept does not apply in the situations which you have described.
Thus, the best course of action is to refrain from doing ground maintenance or handyman chores – avoid problems! Comply with the rules which govern visitors, and trust that you will have no problem at the border.
Wallace Weylie
CSA General Counsel

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