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RV Living in the 21st Century 

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   RV Travel to USA

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            AS John and I returned to Ontario in April a few years ago we began to hear rumours that a new bill was proposed (INS no 2176) that could affect regulations surrounding Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).  It could limit visitors to a 30-day stay in the USA.  This caused great concern to the hundreds of thousands of snowbirds who generally spend six months in the USA. 

       When the RV Traveller newsletter arrived at the end of April (sign up for your free copy from many pages on this website) we were alerted to the bill proposal on the www.escapees.com/website/hot/ProposedRuleChangebyINS.htm. The Escapee page explained that the new bill may eliminate the current minimum six months admission period (B-2 visitors who come for pleasure). They  indicated it may be replaced by a period of time that was fair and reasonable for the completion of the purpose of the visit.  Apparently visitors would be required to explain to an immigration inspector the nature and purpose of their visit so the official could determine an appropriate length of stay.  While INS inspectors would make every effort to determine a reasonable time period, the burden of proof would rest with the alien.  When the time needed to accomplish the purpose of the visit could not be determined, INS may only grant a 30-day B-2 admission.


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          Needless to say many of us Snowbirds were visibly upset.  On the 14 May, President Bush was on TV stating the new INS proposal had been signed into law.  On the 15th CTV reported how this ruling just may affect Canadians. During the program CSA President Ellen White stated that they fully support the need for the INS to control the alien population within the USA however they also wanted to know where Canadians stand in this picture.  Log onto www.snowbirds.org for more info. 

          Memos were then sent to the borders stating that the new B-2 ruling should not apply to Snowbirds but we all know memos can be lost and this type of ruling would give mega power to border officials.

          However the fallout from this ruling is not over yet. On CBC News World morning (16 May), Henry Champ stated that in his negotiations there is NO evidence that Snowbirds would be affected.  Although there is quite a bit of fear mongering taking place in the media, the ‘experts’feel this will all work in a positive way to benefit the snowbirds.  Realistically the sun-country states of Florida, Texas, Arizona and California are being very vocal that the ruling be changed so it will not hinder Canadians from wintering south---Us Canadians contribute extensively to the economics of their winter economies. Canadian Snowbird Associations (CSA) state there is 100,000 Canadians affected but that is only the number of their membership.  If you take in all the RVers and non CSA members, the number of Canadians who winter south could triple or higher.

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         At noon today (16 May) John Manley, Deputy Prime Minister and Governor Tom Ridge (USA Homeland Security Director) hosted a press conference about a new computer system for the borders.  During that conference Governor Ridge assured Canadian Snowbirds that the new ruling would NOT affect our winter travel. He stated that there would be NO change and that formal communications would take place between governments confirming this.  Deputy Prime Minister Manley was interested on this ruling for the benefit of his mother-in law and her southern friends as well as numerous other snowbirds that escape Canada’s cold winters.

          This may be an ongoing saga but both the Canadian Snowbirds Association and the Escapees websites as well as CTV, and CBC should also continue to post updated information.   The general consensus as of now is THIS NEW RULING WILL NOT AFFECT THE NORMAL TRAVEL OF SNOWBIRDS.  Have a good summer and enjoy your next winter in Sun-Country.  P&J





We received the following emails questioning time out of the country.

Q--- How long are you legally allowed to be in the USA if you are a CANADIAN and enter the country without applying for official visas...is it 3 or 6 months?  Thank you for your help.


A--- Hi You can legally be in the USA for 182 days each calendar year. At this point computers are set up at the border it is easy to check up on time visitors spend in the USA via our Passports and licence plates #'s.  For most of us agents are mainly checking licence legality, tickets etc. but now they know exactly when we last crossed and for how long.  They  may also be checking for something in your background.

Read the full details about the above new ruling. If you happen to be from Ontario you only have to be in the province for 5 months each calendar year---This gives you another legal month to travel Canada.

These are the legalities but unless you leave a paper trail such as medical appointments throughout the USA and Canada (outside of Ontario) no one may even know where you are when. However if any official questions you IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO PROVE you're where abouts.  Officials do not have to prove you are in the wrong. Hope this helps

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Second email question on travel to the USA: 

Q---Peggi: I read in the CARP mag. that Cdns. are allowed to be out of Canada for 212 days. However, I also read that Revenue Canada only allows 6 months. My question is: do you have to return to Canada and spend the other entire 6 months in Canada ? Or can you cross into US for weekends etc. ?


A--- Kelly: So sorry we are so late in getting back to you. We are again in a very pretty place but there is NO public access modems within 20 miles. The library computers work well but I can’t connect my laptop unless I have access to a modem and the library limits usage to a half hour if anyone is waiting.

      To answer your question “No one can legally visit another country for more than 6 months without extended visas”. That translates into 182 days within each calendar year. The only way you can stay south longer is if you go into Mexico for part of your getaway.

      Ontario residents receive an extra bonus---they can be out of our home province for a total of 7 months. The extra month per calendar year is available to travel elsewhere or to other provinces within Canada. The last point to this is unless you leave a paper trail such as submitting many bills from being sick from many destinations while out of Ontario etc., there is really no reason for anyone to check the details of your travels. 

     You can also get a release from OHIP (and other province medical offices)  for an extended 'time-out' of province once in a lifetime---(I think the absence is up yo two years in Ontario). This still does not mean you can go south for the two years unless you apply for extended visas and that is not as easy as it sounds but that’s another story that would involve immigration. The preceding info is the legality of the situation although many snowbirds and RVers do not follow these regulations to the letter.  However since we have all required Passports our activities are easier to track.  Be prepared and become informed (contact your provincial medical office and Revenue Canada for detail info) so you know what is what when questions are asked. Hope this helps P&J

This story may answer several more Questions...   

"Out of Prov/Country Regulations"  Provincial Medical & Cdn  Residency 

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