Newsroom | Boosting the Economic Impact of Canadian Snowbirds in Arizona

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Federal bill would extend visitor stays up to 240 days. Trying to escape freezing winters, Canadian snowbirds flock to the United States in search of warmer weather. Arizona is a prime destination for these Canadian visitors.

Federal bill would extend visitor stays up to 240 days

Trying to escape freezing winters, Canadian snowbirds flock every year to the United States in search of warmer weather. Arizona is a prime destination for these Canadian visitors, who are looking to escape winter temperatures that can range from 32 to five degrees Fahrenheit.

Canadian winter street scene with bus and cars driving in snowing conditions

“For most Canadians, it’s the chance to get out of the deep freeze to actually get outside and enjoy life,” said Wendy Caban. She is a Canadian citizen and snowbird who has been traveling to Arizona during the winter for the past 15 years.

Every year, Canadian snowbirds are estimated to add about $1.4 billion to the Arizona economy, according to the Canada Arizona Business Council. Many own or rent property in the United States. However, Canadian snowbirds have a limited amount of time per year they can spend in the U.S. Current immigration law allows them to stay up to 180 days, or six months total. The Canadian Snowbird Act is trying to change that.

U.S. Senate Bill 2096 would extend the amount of time a Canadian snowbird gets to spend in the United States to 240 days, adding two extra months to their stays per year. Supporters of this legislation say the change would provide an enormous economic impact to states like Arizona and Florida, which see a large influx of Canadian snowbirds every year.

“We pay taxes down there, we pay for garbage pick-up, water, sewer, and everything else, and yet we can only use it for half a year,” Caban said.

Canadian Arizona snowbird Wendy Caban and her family

Caban and her husband own a mobile home in a trailer park in the Phoenix metro area. She supports the idea of extending the amount of time that they can remain in the United States during the year. She says this would create more flexibility with her family’s other travels.

“I have three American grandchildren in California. I can’t visit them if I spend 6 months in Arizona in the winter. I can’t take my other grandchildren to Disneyland, or go on a cruise or anything like that. It cuts my year in half,” Caban said.


The Financial Impact

An extended stay for Canadians means more revenue for restaurants, the hospitality industry, state and local taxes. This also allows Canadian visitors to enjoy the region even more.

“If I want to come home for Christmas, those days are still included in my time down in the states, even though I am not there. It takes a lot of revenue out of American hands for any other trips the rest of the year we may want to make,” Caban said.

North American map showing US and Canadian money and a toy airplane

The Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Council recently voted to support the legislation, noting that the federal bill would allow Canadian snowbirds to inject more money into our local economy.

According to the Canada Arizona Business Council, the Grand Canyon state sees about 975,000 Canadian visitors each year. About 100,000 of them are residential tourists or snowbirds. On average, they spend $3,500 per month, according to the Canadian Snowbird Association.

“And why wouldn’t they want us there longer? We bring money!” said Judy Hawley, a Canadian citizen and member of the Calgary-Phoenix Sister Cities organization. She has been traveling to Phoenix for 12 years and owns a property in the Valley. “It is not just a vacation, it’s our home. It’s our winter home,” Hawley said.

Who Would Be Eligible?

Map showing the United States and Canada with toy luggage in red and white with Canadian flag

The bill would not automatically extend the stay for all Canadian visitors. Only a specific group of eligible snowbirds would be allowed to enjoy the 240 days extended stay. Requirements include:

  • They must be at least 50 years old.
  • They must maintain a home in Canada.
  • They must own or rent property in the United States.
  • They do not work for a USA employer.
  • They do not apply for public benefits assistance.

Arizona Senators Mark Kelly and Kristen Sinema are co-sponsors of the legislation, along with Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott from Florida.

Proponents of the legislation are looking to move it forward through the reconciliation process in Congress this year. It would be Included in a version of the “Building a Better America” bill, since it would also increase tax revenue for the federal government. “I think it is a win-win for the states and for snowbirds if we are allowed to come down longer,” Caban said.

Published July 22, 2022