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Palm Springs Attorney for Canadians Editorializes that Canadians Should Be Permitted to Stay in the US More Than 6 Months a Year (Part 1)

This appeared in the Desert Sun (the local Palm Springs newspaper) on April 21, 2013.

Canadians Should Be Welcomed More Than 180 Days A Year
(By Sanger & Manes)

As a Palm Springs, California attorney focusing on Canadian (and international) tax, estate and business issues, my Canadian clients often repeat to me a similar theme: we would love to stay in the US longer. Under current US immigration law, Canadians can generally stay in the United States up to 180 days out of any 365 day period. As part of any new sweeping immigration legislation, Congress must permit Canadians to stay longer in the United States.

Here’s why:

Canadians Saved, and Continue to Save, the Real Estate Market and Economies of Certain US States and Regions

For the last five years, the real estate markets and economies of several warm weather states and regions, including our Coachella Valley, have been critically stabilized by an influx of Canadian home buyers. Some surveys suggest Canadians purchased over 70% of homes in the Palm Springs area in previous years. Further estimates have the average home sale purchase price increasing by approximately 20% in the Coachella Valley since the beginning of 2012. Thank you Canadians. And of course, the Canadians’ contribution to a community frequently only begins with the purchase of a house. Restaurants, golf courses, professional services, local retail, you name it- all bolstered by the Canadians living significant months in their preferred United States community. Somebody please explain to me the benefit derived by the United States in forcing its Canadian home owners to go home after 180 days.

Canadians Are Starting Some Businesses in the US, But Would Start Many More With More Favorable Immigration Regulations

In our law office, I am now regularly contacted by Canadians interested in starting businesses in California and other states. The proposed businesses will almost always eventually lead to job opportunities for Americans. And while the Canadians have the capital and the interest to start a US business, one impediment frequently exists: how can the Canadian run a business in which he or she can only personally be present for a maximum of six months a year? And while there are certain visas which could overcome this problem, they typically require a significant financial commitment (and the requirement of hiring several Americans quickly). Maybe the proposed business would eventually grow to the point to satisfy these requirements, but how many Canadians are looking to make a far less substantial commitment at the inception of the business? How many prospective Canadian-owned US businesses never get formed because of the 180 day rule?

Even After Immigration Reform, Hurdles Would Still Exist

Is the Canadian government just going to let some of their most affluent citizens stay in the US most of the year? Maybe not. Canadian provinces might have to agree to extend their province-run medical coverage for their residents who leave the province up to, for example, nine months a year (as opposed to the current rule of most provinces which discontinues the medical coverage of residents who leave more than six or seven months a year). Would they be so gracious? Would Canadians move to the United States if it meant forfeiting their Canadian governmental medical coverage? Likewise, the United States might have to make some accommodations for the Canadians as well. Would the US include Canadian seniors moving to the US in Medicare (unlikely)? Also, would the US make an exception to its tax laws (requiring foreign citizens in the US over 6 months a year to file US tax returns)? One would think the US might have to…

We will reprint the rest of the editorial, plus discuss whether the “up to 8 months rule” made it in the first draft of “gang of 8’s” immigration proposal, in part 2 of this topic.