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Government Relations
Ron Steeves
First Vice-President
In the last issue
, we
reported on the progress which our
proposal for a “Canadian Retiree Visa”
has made with its inclusion in the bipar-
tisan VISIT-USA Act introduced in both
the United States Senate and in the
House of Representatives. That bill has
been referred to both the judiciary and
homeland security committees in both
the House and Senate for hearings and
further study. As of this writing, that has
yet to happen but, as we learned on our
latest visit to Washington, D.C., this is
not necessarily a bad thing.
There are usually two ways to ap-
proach having an idea such as ours
passed in both the House and Senate.
Thefirstway is toapproachan individual
member of either chamber with your
idea and convince them to introduce
a bill that will legislate it. The problem
with this approach is that even if you
have a great idea, you then need to go
out and build support for the bill by
finding other members to co-sponsor
the legislation. With 435 members of
the House and another 100 senators,
this can be tricky if your legislation only
directly appeals to representatives from
a small number of states.
The other approach to take – the
approach that we have chosen – is to
identify bills that have either already
been introduced or are imminent,
which contain provisions that appeal
to a wide spectrum of legislators from
a large cross-section of states. You
obviously then want your provisions
included in that bill. In addition to cre-
ating a retiree visa for Canadians, the
VISIT-USA Act contains provisions that
appeal to foreign real estate investors
and Chinese nationals, and creates
expedited visa processing provisions.
Some of these measures appeal to
legislators from states other than the
traditional snowbird-friendly states
and, thus, the chance of it passing
both houses of Congress substantially
The other thing to keep in mind is
that there’s no rule which says that our
section of the VISIT-USA Act can’t be
included in other promising bills wind-
ing their ways through Congress. If you
can get your provisions into another
bill, this only increases your chances of
getting them passed and that is exactly
what we have done.
There has been a considerable de-
cline in the U.S. share of global travel
over the last decade that is costing the
United States a great deal of money.
International tourist arrivals around the
world are projected to grow by 36 per
cent from2010 to 2020, resulting in $2.2
trillion in direct travel spending and
generating 62 million jobs. This affords
enormous opportunity for nations that
embrace it and there are many in the
United States who are no longer willing
to lose out on that potential revenue.
On May 15, 2012, U.S. Senators
Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mike Lee
(R-UT) introduced the Jobs Originated
Through Launching Travel Act or, as it
is more commonly referred to, the JOLT
Act. This bill is an attempt to reform the
U.S. visa processing system. One of the
highlights is a call for expansion in the
number of countries participating in
the Visa Waiver Program. This program
allows citizens of member nations
to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days
without first obtaining a visa. It facili-
tates tourism and business travel for
individuals from member nations and
offers benefits in terms of economics,
diplomacy and national security. In
2009, 16.2 million visitors entered the
U.S. under this program, comprising
nearly 51 per cent of all foreign visitors.
Why am I telling you this? Because
Senators Schumer and Lee have agreed
to include our proposal for a “Canadian
RetireeVisa”in this bill, in addition toour
inclusion in the VISIT-USA Act. Again,
this bill has a political appeal that ex-
tends far beyond the concerns of legis-
lators from the traditional snowbird
states such as Florida, Arizona, Texas
and California. An identical JOLT Act
has also been introduced in the House
of Representatives by Congressmen
Joe Heck (R-NV) and Mike Quigley (D-
Il). In essence, it’s like having two raffle
tickets instead of one. If either of these
bills passes, we’ll have our retiree visa.
It’s also beneficial that the JOLT Act
was written in consultation with the
Department of Homeland Security and
the State Department and that both
have already given it their blessing.
President Obama has said publicly that
if Congress passes the JOLT Act, he will
promptly sign the bill, thus making it
law. It has also been referred to the ju-
diciary and homeland security commit-
tees in both houses but, unlike the VISIT
USA Act, hearings have already begun.
We are working hard, the momentum is
building and we will certainly keep you
informed of our progress.
Have a wonderful and safe summer.