It is time to get serious!

Spring 2003 CSANews Issue 46  |  Posted date : Apr 15, 2007.Back to list

During the many social events I visited throughout Florida, I must admit that I was impressed with the positive attitude of most Canadians. Considering the Operation Iraqi Freedom war, the tense situation in the Mideast and the high-risk terrorist attack warnings in the United States, it seemed like most of you enjoyed your stay in the sun belt. There was, as expected, a lot of concern as to how our American friends would react after Prime Minister Chrétien announced that Canada would not be sending troops to the war. I'm pleased to say that my findings showed very little anti-Canadian sentiment to Canada's position from most individual Americans.

During my visits, I was asked many questions about the new U.S. border- crossing regulations. In fact, there were more of these questions than in any other year including 1992, when the United States Congress passed into law the filing of the Closer Connection Exception Statement for Aliens (or the 8840 form). This Internal Revenue Service form should be filed annually by all foreigners including spouses, to prove their closer connection to another country; otherwise, you could be taxed on your worldwide income! To simplify this law, the CSA and I suggest the following ­ if you stay in the United States for three months or longer, file it! It is good protection and an excellent way to prove your connection to Canada, so keep copies for crossing the border.

I find it hard to believe that so many Canadian snowbirds who stay in the U.S. for an extended period of time tell me that they don't know about this law. I will admit, however, that not too many U.S. Customs and Immigration officers at the border know about it either. But that could now change with more resources and comprehensive officer training with the integration of the U.S. Customs Service, Federal Protective Service and Transportation Security into the new Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, within the new U.S Department of Homeland Security. And this law is enforced by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service who, I suspect, will be working very closely with the new bureau making the filing of this form much more important!

CSA News provides a copy of Form 8840 in its publication each year. I urge you to read the instructions and if you meet the requirements - file it! And please, if you're one of the many people who tell me, "I'm not filing this form because I don't want the U.S. to know who and where I am," remember that you are a guest in their country, a guest who is allowed to live there temporarily with few restrictions ­ don't abuse that privilege.

Here is some more good advice ­ if you don't have a passport, get one! As of March 17, 2003, Canadian landed immigrants from most Common-wealth countries will need a valid passport and a visa to enter the United States. Prior to this date, they were allowed to enter the U.S. without the visa. If you're from the U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore or Brunei and if your visit is for fewer than 90 days, the requirement can be waived. Of course, this requirement doesn't apply to everyone but more changes are expected in the future, so keep informed by visiting the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Web site, www.bice.immigration.gov or write them; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C. 20528. At deadline for this issue, a phone number was not available. For Canadian passport information and application forms, go to www.ppt.gc.ca or call 1-800-567-6868.

So, folks, with all that is going on in the world, "it is time to get serious" about the legalities of your long-term stay in the United States. Protect that privilege by learning and obeying their laws!

And please remember, the CSA is here to help you!