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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hello! 

After 25 years in international advisory services, I am assessing new career directions and taking an indefinite break from this blog. You may find some posts valuable but remember that posted information and observations become stale over time. Blog posts are not a substitute for advice from a qualified professional who understands your situation

Current news and commentary, courtesy of Google, is still available at the bottom of the page. 

Feel free to contact me at bradxb@gmail.com

Enjoy!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy Canada Day!


Happy Canada Day, to all my Canadian friends, wherever you are!

Check out the story behind the photo and gifted Canadian photographer +Don Komarechka

Friday, June 28, 2013

US Immigration Bill: On to the House!

Yesterday, June 27, the US Senate passed a broad immigration reform bill. The bill included both the retiree visa (Section 4504) and the Canadian 240 day extended stay option (Section 4503). Now the House of Representatives must propose and approve its own immigration bill (or package of immigration bills), before a House-Senate conference committee tries to synthesize the House and Senate versions.

The daunting task in the House, deeply divided over immigration, is to get a broad immigration reform package approved. Getting such a package approved would be nice but is not necessary. If even a pared-down version of immigration reform gets approved by the House, good things may (will likely) happen behind closed doors in the House-Senate conference committee. Conference committees can check extreme politics with their hats and coats and focus on crafting a bill that a majority of both houses can live with.

At this point it does not seem that the retiree visa or 240 extended stay proposals are going to be negotiated away. They are not dear to either side of the immigration issue so they have little or no value at the table, but they are also a win-win (what’s not to like?). Despite the political bluster, it seems to me that the special path to citizenship for undocumented people will be sacrificed to save the rest of the bill. Check out the Washington Post WonkBlog for three different ways an immigration bill might pass the House: http://goo.gl/CBajj.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Immigrant Insurance - Unaffected by ObamaCare

Do you know about the new US insurance exchanges that open October 1 with coverage to begin January 1 for US residents? Sure you do.

Do you know that the exchanges will be closed to persons 65 and over?  ‘Probably know that too.

Do you know that US Medicare will be unavailable to new green card holders 65 and over with less than five years of US residence? Sure you do.

Do you know that green card holders 65+ with less than five years of US residence can obtain health insurance through immigrant insurance policies specially designed for them? You probably already know that too. And I bet you also know that insurance premiums are a little higher than otherwise and the there are restrictions associated with preexisting conditions, as well as policy limits and limits on specific ailments? The coverage  may be good but less than ideal. You probably know that too. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

About that NONRESIDENT Return...
(Naturalization and Incorrect US Tax Filings)


Some things in life I just don't understand. Like hot water heaters, pairs of scissors, chicken fingers, pizza in a square box--and Canadian accountants dispensing US tax advice. I shudder to think of how many times Canadians have told me and my +KeatsConnelly colleagues that their accountants advised them, as green card holders, to file nonresident US tax returns because they are still filing Canadian resident (T1) tax returns in Canada. 

NOTE: Uncle Sam does not care how green card holders file tax returns in Canada. US immigration and US tax rules require green card holders to file IRS Form 1040 resident tax returns annually. 2 + 2 = 4. Black and white. Period. No analysis required. What gets reported, what gets claimed (and how much tax to pay and to whom) is a different set of issues.  

It is possible that green card holders could file nonresident returns for years and escape CIS or IRS scrutiny. However, such a green card holder is immediately under the US government microscope when he/she files a US naturalization application. Naturalization applicants must show that they have followed the rules generally. Filing nonresident tax returns is not following the rules. In fact, it may be a route to denial of the naturalization application and loss of the green card. 


"GREETING...YOU ARE HEREBY ORDERED...":
US Selective Service and Cross-Border Planning

Just a reminder that every male green card holder between the ages of 18 and 26 must register for US Selective Service. Failure to register may prevent one from qualifying for a variety of government related benefits, including naturalization--and upset Mom and Dad's immigration planning

Naturalization applicants, 18-25. USCIS will confirm that a male naturalization applicant in the 18-25 age group has indeed registered for Selective Service. One who has failed to register will have action on the naturalization application suspended so that he may register. A male applicant who then refuses to register may (probably will) have his naturalization application denied.

Naturalization applicants, 26-30. At age 26, a male green card holder can no longer register for Selective Service. Such an individual must file with his naturalization application a statement explaining how the failure to register neither knowing nor willful (Good luck with that. Males in that age group are advised of the registration requirement when they receive their green cards). Even with a statement, an applicant may have difficulty meeting certain naturalization requirements related to demonstrating loyalty to the United States. Naturalization for such applicants is not a slam dunk.

Naturalization applicants, 31+. Male applicants in this age group must still file a statement explaining why they failed to register; however, absent additional unfavorable information in the hands of CIS, such applicants will be forgiven their failure to register.

This issue is likely to create trouble for cross-border planning when Mom and Dad expect Junior, a green card holder, to get naturalized and then sponsor Mom and Dad for green cards. If Junior is between 26 and 30 and failed to register for Selective Service, Mom and Dad should explore other options to get green cards or delay their exit plans until after Junior turns 31 when he can apply for naturalization without risk.