Canadians may purchase homes in the U.S. and spend substantial time residing in these homes by using the immigration provision for Visitors For Pleasure. This option is fast and easy for Canadians, as U.S. immigration law does not require Canadian citizens to submit advance applications to enter the U.S. as visitors for pleasure. The procedure followed is the same one that applies to Canadian shoppers headed to the U.S. for the weekend; i.e., qualified individuals merely drive to the border and, after they have answered the questions put to them by the Customs and Border Protection Officer stationed there, enter the U.S. without having to fill out any paperwork or pay a fee. Applicable rules are discussed in the following paragraphs.
To qualify for Visitor for Pleasure status, it is necessary to satisfy four criteria:
- Residence abroad – Visitors for Pleasure must maintain a residence abroad. A person using this immigration option to spend time in a home owned in the U.S. should be prepared to show that the U.S. abode is a second residence and that a primary residence is maintained abroad and always available to the visitor, i.e. not rented out or otherwise occupied.
- Less than six months spent in U.S. annually – Visitors for Pleasure visiting the U.S. from Canada should be prepared to establish their stay is temporary and that they spend less than six months annually in the U.S. The U.S. residence must be a second residence, not the primary residence.
- Means of support – Visitors for Pleasure may not work in the U.S. and may be required to show employment in Canada or other location outside the U.S., or possession of adequate financial resources, such as pension and other retirement assets, to guarantee that work will not be required to meet daily needs while in the U.S.
- Not otherwise inadmissible -Visitors for Pleasure must not be inadmissible to the U.S. because of criminal history, alien smuggling, persecution of others, or other general bars to admission to the U.S. imposed by Congress.
Once a U.S. dwelling has been purchased, a Visitor for Pleasure may perform repairs upon the premises and otherwise maintain them by engaging in lawn mowing, tree and shrub planting, pruning, fence building and repairing, laying patios, walks, etc., only if the premises are to be occupied solely by himself, members of his family or nonpaying guests. If the dwelling is to be rented out, even for a short period of time, a U.S. worker must be hired to maintain the premises.
Expanded options for home ownership within the U.S. exist for Canadians who have obtained “work permits,” permanent resident (“green card”) status, or who are dual citizens through birth or naturalization in the U.S., or by birth in Canada to a U.S. citizen parent who may, under certain circumstances, have passed U.S. citizenship through to the Canadian-born child. These options are often complex and frequently require the assistance of a lawyer.
Our Americanlaw.com website contains more information on Visitor for Pleasure status at the following link.