US immigration advice from a seasoned snowbird

Every year, thousands of people from British Columbia and other provinces and territories leave Canada to spend the winter in the United States. When summer arrives, these snowbirds head home, and regardless of how many times they have crossed the border, it does not get easier. A director of the Canadian Snowbird Association recently spoke at a meeting where she advised on U.S. immigration laws that affect border-crossing snowbirds.

She said preparedness is crucial, even for those who go on day trips to Seattle or other cities. She suggests compiling a binder in which to keep all the necessary documentation, not forgetting to include a tax notice or utility bill to show that they do not intend to move to the U.S. but plan to return. It is also a good idea to leave copies of all the documents at home as a fall-back in case anything should happen.

It is also essential to keep an accurate record of the days spent in the U.S. During any 12-month period, Canadians may spend one day less than six months south of the border. A quick shopping trip counts as a full day, and those form part of the limit -- typically 182 days. The director also reminded snowbirds not to take on work of any kind while in the United States and also to make sure they declare everything they bring back to Canada to border officials when they return.

Being prepared is undoubtedly a good idea, but those who are new snowbirds might be unsure of what to include in a border binder. This is where the skills of a British Columbia lawyer with experience in dealing with all matters related to U.S. immigration come in. A lawyer can answer questions, explain the laws and assist in obtaining all the necessary documents.

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