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Maintaining Canadian Residency

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Searched the forum as far back as 2008, found lots of great advice, but still have a question: can one maintain Canadian residency (from the point of view of health care and national student loans organizations) while studying in the US? i.e. have Canada as primary residence, and US as secondary?

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Yes and no. The tricky thing is that there are a lot of different organizations that care about your residency and each of them might define residency differently.


I am a Canadian citizen living in California for graduate school. Here are the implications:


Taxes: When I file my Canadian taxes, I file as a "factual resident" of Canada (see: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/nnrsdnts/ndvdls/tmprry-eng.html).This means what you are asking--I file as if I never left Canada and I get to keep all the tax benefits (e.g. GST rebates etc.) When I file taxes in the United States, I file as a " non-resident alien". So, the answer to your question is yes, basically Canada is my "primary residence" and the US is my "secondary residence" (although these terms are not well defined).


Health care: My last Canadian address is in British Columbia. I do NOT qualify for BC MSP (Medical Services Plan, i.e. our health care system). The eligibility requirements are here: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/topic.page?id=A24BB960F5234630BCB9DE847EEFD07Band the one that I do not meet is the "physically present in BC for 6 months/year". Therefore, I do not have Canadian health care coverage anymore. I will be able to regain such coverage when I return to Canada and go through a 3 month wait period. Instead, my primary health insurance coverage is now based in the United States, through my University as part of my grad student benefits package. This insurance covers international travel, so if I do get hurt while in Canada, I would be using my US-based health insurance's travel policy.


National Student Loans: Sorry, I cannot help you here, because I do not have experience with this!


Driver License: I added this category because I think it's helpful/important. This varies a lot with your Canadian province and your new state. In California, no international driver licenses are recognized and international students are considered "residents" in terms of licensing requirements. This means that an international student in California can only drive using their Canadian license for the first 10 days. After this, they must get a California driver license to continue driving (and this means taking both the written and road tests). Note that if you were just visiting California, you can drive for up to something like 90 days on your Canadian license because you're "just visiting" / "not a resident". However, being here for school means you are a "resident" in the DMV's point of view. Additionally, ICBC (the authority that issues licenses in BC) does not like it if you hold both a US driver license and a BC driver license. So, if you ever interact with your Canadian driver licensing authority, avoid telling them that you have a US license unless you are required to.

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