Over the past five years, much has been made of the so-called 240-day visa that, purportedly, would allow retired Canadians (50 or older) with the means to rent or buy residences in the U.S. to live south of the border for up to 240 days per year. Currently, U.S. immigration law allows Canadians a total of up to six months (182 days) per any 12-month period for leisure/tourism.
The expanded “allowance” is tied to a piece of legislation known as the JOLT Act (Jobs Originating through Launching Travel Act), a measure that has already been passed by the Senate but still needs to be acted on by the House of Representatives. Although the bill has almost 150 sponsors in the House, it remains mired somewhere in legislative purgatory, unable to even get into committee stage, let alone to the House floor. And until the JOLT Act is passed by both House and Senate, it cannot get signed into law.
JOLT was introduced in 2011 during the 112th Congress and has been re-introduced in each session since then. But each time it fails enactment, dies, and has to be re-introduced in the next Congress. So it will have to try again in during 115th, which begins on January 3, 2017.
The title of the Act is clearly describes its purpose: snag a bigger share of worldwide tourism. Likewise, attracting longer-term Canadians remains a key element, since many retired Canadians have the money and the time—not to mention a penchant for habitable weather and U.S. real estate. But the 240-day visa is not a separate legislative entity. It is still procedurally tied to other legislation designed to clean up America’s messy and highly volatile immigration system. And making it easier for foreign nationals of other countries to get visas to enter the U.S. is a tough proposition these days, given the recent events in Paris and Brussels. So predicting the likely course of the Act even in the next Congress is no better than a crap shoot.
Getting bills through Congress is like sifting mud. In the last two decades fewer than 6 percent of bills introduced in Congress have become law. So don’t hold your breath.
But if the JOLT Act could get through the next Congress, it would allow Canadians retirees to spend at least one more month in the U.S. per year without infringing on their provincial health insurance, which now allows them to be out of their province for up to seven months (some say seven months per calendar year, others seven months per any 12-month period). The exceptions are Quebec and P.E.I., which still require their residents to actually be physically present in their home provinces for six months.
Stay tuned. We’ll keep you apprised of the JOLT Act progress in the next Congress. In the meantime, think about spending the “seventh” month your province allows in some other equitable non-U.S. climate, like Bali, or New Zealand.
For information on travel insurance and products, visit Ingle International.