Immigrant bill could allow Canadians longer stays, boost Arizona economy

Beth Duckett, The Republic

July 22, 2013

Every fall, Canadian snowbirds Lyle Pederson and his wife make the trek to Arizona, trading the bitter cold for sunny skies.

This year, they stayed a little longer, returning north in May. And while they plan to come back this fall, the 180-day limit for Canadian snowbirds to stay in the United States each year means the Pedersons are counting their days, and carefully.

“It’s an issue for all the Canadian snowbirds who go down to Arizona in the winter,” Lyle Pederson said.

Fortunately for them, a provision tucked in the immigration-reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate would allow many Canadian retirees to stay south of their border up to 60 days longer per year — a total of 240 days rather than 180 days.

Arizona tourism and economic officials have lauded the provision, which was incorporated into the bill’s Jobs Originating Through Launching Travel Act, to ostensibly boost travel and tourism to the United States.

With its balmy winters and affordable housing, Arizona has one of the largest markets for overnight stays among Canadian travelers, tourism officials say.

In 2012, Arizona ranked third, after Florida and California, in the number of nights that Canadians spent in the state, according to data from Statistics Canada.

Extending the time for Canadians to stay, shop and dine here means more dollars flowing into Arizona’s economy, not to mention the extra tax-related revenue for the state and local governments, according to state tourism officials.

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