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Dear Bird Talk,
I recently received your Nova Scotia Elections
Handbook. It was one of the most informative
and effective pieces of assistive literature that I
have ever received. In addition to the succinct
précis of the mechanics of the Nova Scotia
voting process and the political parties involved,
it also provided an informative and effective
synopsis of the issues that relate to my status as
a snowbird.
This brochure arrived shortly after an e-mail
relating that CSA has been successful in
persuading two of the three political parties
in Nova Scotia to support our ongoing battle
to obtain equality with other provinces in
extended coverage for frequent travellers. The
political parties have agreed to extend health-
care coverage for up to seven months.
These are further examples as to why I consider
CSA as the most effective advocacy organization
that I have ever been associated with.
R. John
Keating Dartmouth, NS
Ed.: Thank you for your support and
encouragement. We will continue to publish our
election handbooks as someone has to advise
people regarding what to expect and what to do
at election time. Should that not be the job of our
various governments? Ah well!
Dear Bird Talk,
We have just entered the U.S. at the Peace
Bridge in Buffalo. We have a mobile home in
Florida where we will be living for five months.
We had all of our documentation at the ready
and prepared for the crossing, something we
have done for 15 years. The border guard asked
us to provide “proof” that we returned last April
from Florida and, because we thought U.S. and
Canadian systems were “married” systems, we
did not have this “proof.”We have been “flagged”
and told we were lucky that we weren’t fined
and restricted for five years in crossing the
border. When asking what methods of proof
we could provide, the border guy nastily said
to educate ourselves of these requirements.
The border guard informed us that our dog
must be on a leash (which she was) and grilled
us on what the U.S. requirement rules were for
being out of Canada for extended times. It was
a horrible experience and our stomachs were in
knots for the rest of the trip. Just a heads-up for
Canadian snowbirds!!!
Lorraine
Niagara Falls, ON
Ed.: We are printing this letter for the border
authorities, not our members. This is a new
question to us in that we are unaware of someone
having to “prove” that they left the U.S., prior to
re-entering the U.S. Hopefully, this is a one-off
situation by an overeager border guard. The
threats are, unfortunately, very real and…in our
opinion…“sadistic.” Carrying copies of your credit
card statements showing where charges were
made would have been helpful.
Dear Bird Talk,
We understand that there is a limit of 182 days
for Ontario residents to be in the states per year.
Does the year run from January to December
(calendar year), or how do they estimate your
stay in the states?
Beth Duffield
Point Edward, ON
Ed.: For clarity, a Canadian is not allowed to stay
in the United States for more than six months
in
any twelve-month period.
This means that U.S.
authorities will look at March to March, or any
other 12-month period, as well as the calendar
year. You must be very careful if you shift your visit
dates forward from one year to the next. Say that
you spent December 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013 (six
full months) on your trip last year and this year,
you decide to travel fromOctober 1, 2013 to March
31, 2014 for six months.
This is not allowed!
If you
look at the period between December 2012 and
December 2013, you will have spent eight months
there in the past 12 months. This is probably what
the earlier letter’s border guard was trying to
determine.
Dear Bird Talk,
In your always informative Editor’s notes in
the Summer 2013 issue, you mentioned that
snowbird visitors are not allowed to work in the
U.S. Is this different than for any other Canadian?
For example, what about Canadians who give
the occasional speech or lead a workshop at a
conference in the U.S., whether already there
on holiday or making a special trip for that
purpose? They have to file aW8-BEN (U.S.)
form with the conference sponsors, but report
and pay tax on the honorarium in Canada. Is
it a violation to give a paid speech during the
time you are in the U.S. as a snowbird for four
months? Appreciate any clarification you can
give on this.
L.A. Richardson
West Vancouver, BC
Ed.: 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. There is a simple visa available, called a B-1
temporary business visa, which permits you to
do conferences or make speeches. You can apply
for this visa when you cross the border. The risk
in doing these things without having cleared it
with the border inspector, and having it noted
on your profile, is that another inspector on a
different occasion may consider it working without
authorization. There could be consequences such
as barring you from the U.S. for five years. As we
all know, the inspectors at the border have full
powers to do as they wish. Doing the paid speech
without having mentioned it on crossing the
border would be risky. The filing of FormW8-BEN is
about another world – taxation. I should caution
you that there are thresholds of income earned,
and paid for, in the United States that require the
actual filing of a U.S. tax return, even if you claim
the income in Canada. Tax advice is a necessity if
amounts are more than $3,800.
Dear Bird Talk,
I spend five months in Florida each year – mid-
November to mid-April. When in Canada, I go
to Lewiston, NY for a few hours about once
every three weeks. Are those trips added to my
out-of-country days? Could I be exceeding the
six-month total by making these daily trips?
They are never more than a couple of hours each
time.
Diana McNivin
St. Catharines, ON
Ed.: Any trip of a few hours is considered as a day in
the U.S., so I would be very careful about adding up
all of the time spent to make sure that it remains at
less than the six months allowed.
Dear Bird Talk,
In response to your letter from Len Stoll,
Ottawa, re top-up insurance. My husband
and I wanted an extra five days in April 2011
and I called the insurance company we were
with that year and there was no problem.
They sold us five days’ each. Were we covered
if an emergency occurred? Your answer to
Len was that no medical insurance provider is
permitted to sell medical insurance in the U.S.
Am I understanding this correctly? Please clarify
the rules and regulations regarding this very
important matter.
Thank you so much,
Yvette Romaine
Ed.: There is no problem if you already have a
Canadian insurance policy and you simply want
to extend it with the same company. Medipac
does this all the time. What we cannot do is sell
you a new policy when you are already in the U.S.
or elsewhere. The second part of your question
– “Were we covered?” – is a little more complex.
Several companies have waiting periods in their
policy wording for sales outside of Canada,
often seven days. This means that when you buy
that policy or an extension, you are not covered
until seven days later. This is a “Read Your Policy
Carefully” situation and I recommend that you just
buy the insurance before you leave; you can always
change it later.
Bird
talk