CSA revisits “Retired Persons Visa”

Winter 2009 CSANews Issue 73  |  Posted date : Dec 12, 2009.Back to list

Several years ago, when Bill McCollum was a United States congressman from the Orlando area (he is now the attorney general for the state of Florida), the Canadian Snowbird Association was involved in supporting a bill in congress to create a "Retired Persons Visa." The bill had been introduced to Congress by Congressman McCollum and, through a couple of sessions of Congress, had progressed to the point of a hearing before a subcommittee of the judiciary committee. CSA attended the hearing, and a snowbird "type" gave evidence that she would take advantage of such a visa if it were available. Unfortunately, the matter did not proceed any further at that time and the bill died at the end of the session. Mr. McCollum was defeated in the next election.

Many snowbirds have expressed the thought that they would like to stay in the United States for a couple of months longer than the six-month maximum that they are allowed under present legislation. They would prefer to be able to stay for eight or nine months, and would then spend the other months in Canada. This would allow them to avoid the winter foul-weather months altogether. They feel that they would be healthier, and many have a social life in the United States that they would be able to continue for a longer period of time. Others would love to be able to stay in the United States year-round, a position which they are unable to fulfil at the present time.

The bill that was proposed had the following criteria – one had to own a residential property in each country, had to be older than 50 years of age, had to prove a certain financial worth, did not intend to work in the United States and had health insurance. The visa would be for a four-year term, renewable indefinitely so long as the criteria were met. The visa would allow the holder access to the United States over the four-year period for unlimited stays.

The time may be ripe to propose legislation to create such a visa. The Obama administration is considering immigration reform and, just last week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that the Obama administration will insist on measures to give legal status to an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in legislation early next year, to overhaul the immigration system. The retiree visa could be part of that overhaul if efforts are made to promote it. In conversations I have had with congressmen and senators regarding the visa, upon learning of the proposal, each was very supportive, saying that it could only do good for their districts. Here were people coming into their districts bringing money to spend, and not taking jobs from Americans. Who could object? But there has to be a campaign to educate the congressmen and senators, and to gain their support for such a bill. All that is needed is the support of at least half of the Congress and half of the Senate, and the bill would pass.

So, if we are going to do anything about this, we have to get going. We need your comments as to whether there is support for such a campaign. Let us know by contacting our executive director, Lawrence Barker, at the following address:

Canadian Snowbird Association
180 Lesmill Rd.
Toronto, Ontario M3B 2T5
E-mail:    ex.dir.gen@snowbirds.org
Telephone:    1-800-805-8214