Snowbird Travel Misconceptions Debunked

I often scour the internet and read articles from reputable newspapers and online sources and see the same mistake happening time after time. What is allowable for a Canadian to travel to the US? Is it six months out of a calendar year? Is it six months in a one year period? Is traveling to the US for six months a “right”?

Keep in mind there are certain things to consider when looking at this often asked question. From my vantage point, there are three factors to consider 1) From a US immigration perspective, what is allowable? 2) From a tax perspective, what is allowable? 3) Do you lose your Canadian benefits, e.g. Health Benefits if traveling abroad for an extended time?

Being a US licensed attorney and I will focus on the first of the factors, that is, how long is a Canadian allowed into the US from a US immigration perspective. Most of what I find online indicates that one may travel for six months out of a calendar year, however,

I’m not sure what the source of this information is from, and like many things on the internet, I find this to be misinformation. According to the Customs and Border Patrol Handbook, the term of admission allowable as a B-2 Visitor for Pleasure status is as follows: “Maximum admission is 1 year. If admissible, a

B-2 is generally admitted for 6 months.” In the Code of Federal Regulations, particularly, 8 CFR 214.2(b), it indicates: “Visitors—(1) General. Any B-1 visitor for business or B-2 visitor for pleasure may be admitted for not more than one year and may be granted extensions of temporary stay in increments of not more than six months each…”

Similarly, if I am to look the US Consular website (US Consulate in Ottawa) it indicates, “Canadian visitors are generally granted a stay in the U.S. for up to six months at the time of entry.”

So again, this common misconception is based on misinformation. It is totally possible, and legal, to be in the US over six months in a calendar year, or likewise, in a one year period. Taxes, etc. may be a different issue.

As an aside, being allowed into the US for six months (or any period) is not a God given right. Every entry to the US is subject to scrutiny and I think it’s best for travelers to use a common sense approach when deciding how long to travel for. Quite often, I’ve met with people of a relatively young demographic, who may have been denied for having a one way ticket to the US, or simply telling a border official that they are not sure when he/she will be leaving the US. If it appears that the person has permanent intentions of living in the US, or is going to breach immigration laws, chances are, that person will be denied entry.

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About Fadi Minawi

Fadi primarily practices in US Immigration Law. He assists with matters relating to business immigration (including: relocation, expansion, investments, and work visas), litigation, admissibility issues, customs forfeitures and other cross-border issues. Fadi is also a criminal defense attorney and can assist with criminal matters in the US. Read more

  • Tanner

    HI, I was looking into applying for a visa so I could work at a ski resort for the winter down in Wyoming. I didn’t end up applying, because the odds of me getting approved seemed low seeing that I am 18, not a skilled worker and not enrolled in university or college

    • Vahe Mirzoyan

      Hi Tanner,

      You are correct. Your age and lack of work experience and college degree, will hinder your chances of obtaining a visa to work and live in the US.


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