A massive immigration bill being considered by the U.S. Senate has a rule change that could bring more Canadian snowbirds to Florida.
The legislation includes a provision that would allow those aged 55 and older to obtain a Canadian Retiree Visa permitting them to stay as long as eight months in the United States. To qualify for the visa, they must own a second home, have a rental agreement or hotel reservation.
The measure would add about two months to the current six-month limit, allowing them to stay about 30 percent longer.
Real estate agents in the Sunshine State say the law would give the second-home market a boost, making real estate purchases more cost effective for Canadians who balk at buying due to poor exchange rates and restrictions on how long they can stay in the country.
Denny Grimes of Fort Myers-based Royal Shell Real Estate says the law would give other sectors of the state’s economy a boost as well, from restaurants to resorts to construction.
However, snowbirds would need all but one of Canada’s provinces to loosen rules that require them to spend at least six months of the year at home in order to preserve their eligibility for national health insurance. Only Newfoundland and Labrador allow residents to keep their health coverage while spending eight months abroad.
Canadians also want U.S. tax laws changed so that they do not have to pay income taxes if they spend up to eight months in Florida.
This article was contributed to The Log by Florida Realtors.