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I was wondering if one got a passport and decided to take a trip and short term stay in another country, but voluntarily chose to be homeless after entry, would it be a crime or an infraction?

Say I am a Canadian Citizen and fly to the U.S. and, skipping all the details, I'm in the country and then decide to voluntarily sleep in the streets. This is generally NOT illegal for citizens/residents themselves, but is it if a visitor would do it? Not assuming they overstay their six month period welcome -- just that they are legal visitors in the country who chose to NOT reside in any accommodation like hotels/homes/temporary living facilities/homesharing/etc. Is it illegal or it makes no difference?

This is assuming they are just the same as any other homeless (e.g. not committing any crimes or disturbing others) -- only that they're not permanent residents. I mean I don't think police would deport you so immediately for just being in the street itself.

This is probably a very weird question, but is it really any big deal/care as long as there's no crime?

And would it make a difference if the person has the option to live on the streets or otherwise?

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    For example, with Schengen countries, it is a prerequisite for visitors to have accommodation arrangements. If you don't need a visa, that often remains unverified, but those nationally inferior must show hotel bookings or formal invitations from residents with their visa applications, which practically makes them ineligible even for Couchsurfing not to speak about 'homelessness'. – ach Dec 29 '15 at 7:02
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    I was sleeping in a camper van in Istanbul and got rumbled by the police, I wasn't arrested but they stayed with me until I checked into a proper hotel. I wouldn't even attempt it in Russia or Ukraine. I suspect the question is too broad to get consensus unless your scope is limited to the USA only. – Gayot Fow Dec 29 '15 at 11:46
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There are actually two intertwingled questions here:

First, virtually every country requires that (if requested) you demonstrate the ability to support yourself for the duration of your stay. For example, if you fly to the US and then declare at immigration that you only have $10 and intend to sleep on the streets for the next two months, you will certainly be sent packing -- since, regardless of whether doing so is a crime, it would almost certainly incur costs to deport you later.

Second, once you're in the country, with few exceptions, laws do not discriminate by nationality: when in Rome, you must do as in Rome, whether you're a citizen or not. So if it's illegal to do something in a given locality (sleep in a car, sleep outside, "vagrancy", "loitering"), it will be illegal both for visitors and for citizens.

Once arrested, if they find out that you're not a resident, whether deportation proceedings are commenced will depend on the severity of the crime, the policy of the jurisdiction, whether you have any money left or have become a "public charge", whether you've exceeded your period of stay, etc.

  • Really?! I have entered the US legally at least 30 times (probably more, too many times to keep track!) by air and land and was never asked any such question. I have also been to 52 other countries (neither Canada nor the US) and have never been asked to demonstrate the ability to support myself during a stay. – Itai Dec 30 '15 at 1:33
  • "If requested". Appearances count: if you look like you have the means, you won't be questioned, if you don't, you will. In particular, anybody who has to apply for a visa will have their finances scrutinized. – lambshaanxy Dec 30 '15 at 1:41
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    @jpatokal I'm pretty sure my mother in law has never has her finances scrutinized. – phoog Dec 30 '15 at 1:57
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For more specific answers:

Say I am a Canadian Citizen and fly to the U.S. and, skipping all the details, I'm in the country and then decide to voluntarily sleep in the streets. This is generally NOT illegal for citizens/residents themselves, but is it if a visitor would do it? Not assuming they overstay their six month period welcome -- just that they are legal visitors in the country who chose to NOT reside in any accommodation like hotels/homes/temporary living facilities/homesharing/etc. Is it illegal or it makes no difference?

It makes no difference.

This is assuming they are just the same as any other homeless (e.g. not committing any crimes or disturbing others) -- only that they're not permanent residents. I mean I don't think police would deport you so immediately for just being in the street itself.

Only if it were a crime to be on the street in the first place ... then maybe.

And would it make a difference if the person has the option to live on the streets or otherwise?

As the other answerer said, as long as you make it clear that you can afford your stay somehow or with some arrangement you will have no issues. To make things even easier, immigration officers tend to go by your WORD only since I've never heard of one demanding bank statements or forcing you to show them your bank account balance in front of them on the internet.

Once inside, you are bound by laws as everyone else -- so if it's not against the law to live in the wilderness or behind a Taco Bell, it won't be a difference whether you're a visitor or citizen.

So if one wanted to live on the streets/in the woods upon entry, the solution is simple: lie. That's it. Keep yourself from doing something in which you could be charged with a crime. Or have a really good reason for living in such an arrangement that you're sure can't be denied by an officer.

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