I've recently entered a relationship with a person from Canada. Part of that commitment involves visiting frequently throughout the year; this commonly involves me driving to pick her up, as opposed to flying to save cost, so she can stay with me in the US. She's planning on coming up to visit again for the entirety of the Summer (four to five months).

Extra information in case it has any impact:

  • She is 20 years old.
  • She is a third-year university student and is committed to her program for another two years.
  • She has visited the US three times already this year. Twice to visit me (~five weeks in total); once to visit her friend (five days).
  • We've both lived in our respective countries all our lives.
  • I've only stayed in Canada with her for a few days at a time.

My Knowledge

Feel free to edit this information if any of it is misleading/incorrect.

  • The 180-day limitation mentioned in these threads [ 1 ][ 2 ] are for people who visit in one consecutive stay; not for totaling 180 days in the year.

  • She will be considered a resident alien of the US if she crosses the 183-day mathematical formula, as noted on this AmericanLaw website:

    A foreign national will meet the Substantial Presence Test if he or she is present in the United States for 31 days in the current year and the sum of the following:

    • sum of the days present in the United States in the current year,
    • one-third of the number of days present in the first preceding year,
    • one sixth of the days present in the second preceding year equals or exceeds 183 days.

    If a Canadian meets the Substantial Presence Test but is ineligible to meet the Closer Connection Exception (i.e. since he or she is present in the United States for more than 183 days in the current year), he or she will be considered to be a resident alien of the United States. Resident aliens are taxed on worldwide income in the same manner as United States citizens.


  • Are there any common limitations, mainly regarding stay durations or frequencies, that could make further visits throughout the year difficult or impossible?

Also, I fully understand that a visitation could be rejected for many reasons and that there's no guarantees regardless of how long of stay. I'm simply trying to avoid breaking any rules or missing any legal obligations that can come up from this international relationship. This is all foreign to me— pun was most certainly intended.

  • The tax questions are probably better for money.se, but you might want to look at the Do I need to file a tax return tool from the IRS. She may well not need to file if she has no or minimal income. Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 1:55
  • We can't help you here with tax questions; try Expatriates for those. Personal Finance & Money might also be an option, but the former will have people who understand the issues unique to people traveling and living in foreign countries. The remaining question seems too broad to answer; there are many possible things that could prevent a visit, some of which nobody could possibly predict. Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 2:54
  • Zach and Michael, I've removed the tax obligation question as advised since it makes sense that it might cross lines better in another stack. I've also tried to clarify and provide focus for my main question; although, my wording may not be optimal on it yet.
    – Xrylite
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 3:20

1 Answer 1


Basically, as far as travel is concerned, she'll have to convince the border officer, each time she tries to enter, that she's not trying to live in the US. Each time she's admitted, she'll be allowed to stay for six months, unless the officer explicitly admits her for a shorter period.

The substantial presence test is for determining whether a foreign national is a resident of the US for income tax purposes. It has no bearing on immigration status.

The risk you should be concerned about is a border officer refusing entry because she appears to be living in the US. I suppose that this will be more likely after she finishes her studies.

  • 2
    They will not think twice about rifling through her purse or smartphone, so make sure there is nothing there that would lead to unwarranted suspicion that the visit is anything but temporary and bereft of anything resembling "work", including helping out for free in a family business and such like. Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 23:05
  • @SpehroPefhany Certainly makes sense. This is the first visit (in either direction) that had intentions to stay more than 3 weeks. I'd presume the longer the expected stay, the more cautious they'll be with it. To my benefit, there's no actual gray area that I could foresee them questioning as working without a permit. I'll keep your advice in mind and forward that along to her =).
    – Xrylite
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 23:24
  • those considerations go both ways. that is also true if you were to visit her in Canada for an Extended period. Canadian border control is going to be primarily concerned that you have sufficient means to not supplant a Canadian Citizens employment and you are not using your visit to search for work in Canada. Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 9:16
  • 1
    @RowanHawkins the question doesn't ask about travel to Canada, but there's nothing wrong with visiting Canada to search for work.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 12:31

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