How long can I stay in the US as a Canadian Visitor? - Resources Blog - US Immigration FAQs - Richards and Jurusik Immigration Law - Buffalo NY

Canadians are visa-exempt. This means Canadian citizens can seek entry to the USA without a visa stamp in their passport. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t rules about how long you can stay—and what you can do while you’re here.

How long can I stay in the USA as a Canadian Visitor?

Canadian citizens may generally visit the United States for up to six (6) months per visit. This allows you to remain in the USA as long as you are participating in acceptable activities as a visitor. Many Canadians have vacation homes for skiing, or in a warmer climate to escape winter (“Snow Birds”). Visits for these purposes fall under the typical Canadian visitor status and do not require a visa. However, your passport must be valid up until the date of your intended departure.

What activities are acceptable as a Canadian visitor to the USA?

Canadians can freely enjoy the following activities as a US visitor:

  • Tourism
  • Vacation (holiday)
  • Visit with friends or relatives
  • Medical treatment
  • Participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
  • Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
  • Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)

What activities are NOT permitted as a Canadian visitor to the USA?

Canadians are not to engage in the following activies as a US visitor:

  • Accept employment or work in the USA. If your visit involves productive employment in the USA, you may need a work visa.
  • Immigrate to or reside permanently in the USA. If you are immigrating or plan on making the USA your permanent residence, you must first obtain an immigrant visa.

Can I stay longer than 6 months per visit?

If your stay is protracted, you can seek an extension of your stay in the USA by filing for an extension of status with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is done through USCIS Form I-539 and must be supported by evidence to support your extended stay as a visitor. Failure to depart the USA on time will result in being out of status. Failure to depart the USA on time may also result in you being ineligible for visas in the future and could result in bars to admission.

How do I reset my stay as a Canadian visitor?

When you depart the US, your status is reset. For example, if you travel to Florida for 3 months, return to Canada, then a week later seek to reenter the USA, you can be readmitted for a new period of stay up to 6 months. The burden of proof is on you to show you are not an intending immigrant with plans to make the United States their primary residence.

There is no set period of time Canadians must wait to re-enter the United States after the end of their stay, but if it appears to the CBP officer that you are spending more time overall in the United States than in Canada, it will be up to you to prove to the officer that you are not making the USA your residence. This can be demonstrated through significant ties to Canada.

How do I show proof of ties to Canada?

Proof of your permanent ties to Canada can include:

  • The purpose of your trip
  • Your intent to depart the United States after your trip
  • Your ability to pay all costs of the trip
  • Proof of family ties
  • Proof of foreign employment
  • Proof of foreign residency
  • Bank statements from your foreign bank account
  • Utility bills from your foreign residence
  • Proof of health insurance in Canada
  • Any other proof to show you maintain your permanent residence in Canada

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The immigration lawyers at Richards and Jurusik Immigration Law have more than 20 years of experience helping foreign nationals (especially Canadians) to live and work in the United States. Contact us today for a free assessment of your legal situation.

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