Canadian Snowbird Association Celebrates Hard-fought Victory – Proposed Changes to U.S. B-2 Visitors’ Visa Shelved

TORONTO, March 6, 2003 – The Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA) is celebrating the Bush administration’s decision to withdraw a plan to possibly restrict visitors to the United States to just 30 days, down from the current six months.

“We fought against this proposed regulation and we are thrilled by the decision made by the Department of Justice. It’s truly a David and Goliath story,” says Ellen White, president of the CSA. “Without the support of people like (Florida) Governor Jeb Bush and Congressman Donald Manzullo, we do not believe this plan would have been shelved – they were our champions. The Canadian Snowbird Association developed a strategy and then worked non-stop to follow it through making phone calls, writing letters, sending faxes – the pinnacle was our appearance before the House Small Business Committee on Capitol Hill. We didn’t let up – this was our fight and we’ve won it, hands down.”

The proposed regulation could be brought forward again by the newly formed Department of Homeland Security but, for now, the snowbird community is breathing a sigh of relief.

“We had members call to say that they had border officials tell them that shortly, it would be a 30-day stay in the U.S. – tops. At the same time, we had other officials say that the proposed regulation change wouldn’t affect Canadians. There was no consistency – and definitely for a traveller crossing the border, there is no arguing,” says Paul Jenkins, chair of the CSA Government Relations Committee.

Throughout the ‘appeal’ process, the CSA worked closely with representatives of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and many United States stakeholders including sun belt chambers of commerce, tourism boards and government offices. The Canadian Snowbird Association was credited in Governor Bush’s press release as being a partner in the retraction of this regulation. At the House Small Business Committee hearing, Governor Bush’s office credited the CSA with bringing the issue to the forefront.

The CSA’s campaign was two-pronged – alerting the U.S. stakeholders to the economic impact snowbirds have on their local winter communities, and alerting snowbirds to the documentation they would require in order to be granted a six-month stay in the United States.

The Canadian Snowbird Association, a non-profit organization, works for Canadian travellers by actively defending and improving their rights and privileges.