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common property of the community
Do Canadian
who volunteer
here need a work visa?
Lorne and Lynne Dressler
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
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
the editor replied to a letter from L.A.
Richardson about working in the U.S. as
“WallaceWeylie, CSA’s legal counsel,
states that doing anything in the
United States for which compensation
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
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
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
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
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
Featuring the letters & concerns
of our members
Bird Talk, c/o CSANews
180 Lesmill Road
Toronto, Ontario M3B 2T5
or by e-mail:
Bird Talk