Canadian Snowbird Association Tackles Proposed USA Visit Restrictions

Status of Canadians to be clarified in writing within two weeks as Association appears before U.S. House Small Business Committee

TORONTO, June 20, 2002 – The Canadian Snowbird Association has secured a promise from Representative Manzullo, head of the House Small Business Committee, that a letter exempting Canadians from the proposed Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) regulations will be delivered within two weeks.

“We are extremely honoured to have been included as witnesses before the House Small Business Committee, and are thrilled with the outcome,” says CSA President Ellen White. “Before, our lobbying efforts were through our U.S. contacts. The invitation to travel to Capitol Hill yesterday offered us an unparalleled opportunity to speak, on behalf of Canadian travellers, to U.S. lawmakers. Chairman Manzullo addressed our concerns and has extracted a commitment from James Ziglar, commissioner of the INS, to produce – with our input – a letter for the Canadian Snowbird Association indicating that Canadians will not be affected by the new regulation, except as it applies to extensions beyond six-month stays.”

Snowbirds vacation for up to six months of the year, primarily in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California – and many of them winter in the warmer climates for health reasons. The uncertainty of snowbirds’ access to their winter homes and destinations in the United States and, in particular, the length of that access, has caused upset and confusion within the snowbird community. Nowhere in the proposed regulation is there provision for extension of stay for those retirees who would like to remain in the United States for longer than 30 days, purely for health or enjoyment reasons. Yesterday’s announcement will ease the fears of hundreds of thousands of Canadian travellers.

The Canadian Snowbird Association has been credited by Governor Bush’s office for bringing the tourism issue to the forefront. Witnesses at the Small Business Committee’s meeting included INS Chairman James Ziglar and Florida Governor Jeb Bush (via videotape). The full committee hearing was to address impact of the proposed regulation on small business in the United States.