Generally, no, you cannot.

After the SCOTUS ruling on abortion, online forums are filled with people saying this is no longer “their country” and they will move elsewhere.

They are unaware that it is usually very difficult to obtain a residency visas in another country.

To obtain a visa you need to meet specific requirements:

  • Be young and have a college degree in an “in demand” field – which usually means engineering or health care or have established yourself as a leader in your field. If older than 35 to 50, depending on the country, these visas are not available. You generally need a job offer in hand to apply for a residency visa.
  • Ancestry/family connection – a small number of countries grant visas or citizenship based on recent family connections. For example, my wife’s Dad was born in Canada and this entitles her to a “right of descent” citizenship in Canada, if she wished to pursue that. Only a few countries have “right of descent” programs. Related: a surprising number of people have dual citizenship, and having dual passports is now a “must have” item for the elite. If you immigrated to the U.S., you likely have both U.S. residency, a foreign citizenship and passport. The wealthy elite purchase residency and/or citizenship in various countries. This does not apply to most of us – but noting that those with dual citizenship and/or multiple passports have special privileges to move abroad.
  • Student visa. Some student visas enable you to stay for a period after graduating during which you may apply for jobs and a residency visa. This is oriented towards young people.
  • Marriage. Marriage to a citizen of another country does not automatically grant residency but may be a step along a path to future residency. While not strictly for young people, most people get married when young.
  • Investment visas – in many countries you may make an investment in local businesses, startups or real estate and obtain a residency visa. The cost varies from typically the low USD 100,000s range up to about USD $10 million.
  • A small number of countries, particularly in Central and South America, have visas that retirees may use for residency. They generally require minimum income originating outside the country and other requirements such as purchase of in-country health insurance.
  • Some countries offer Digital Nomad visas – these are issued for 1-2 years and require your income originate from outside the country. Writers, some business analysts and software developers are in positions to use these visas.

In the real world – if you wish to move to another country, you likely need advanced skills in the right field of study, be young – or have the financial assets to purchase an investment visa. You cannot just pack up and move to another country. People thinking they will move abroad run into a wall – they will not qualify for residency in other countries.

I’ve written a lot about this topic on my Global Travel blog.

The above only addresses the first hurdle: getting a visa.

After you’ve done that, you have more hurdles to cross.

  • Learning another language.
  • Learning another culture and customs.
  • The logistics of an international move.
  • Obtaining employment, possibly job-related licensure, which may require additional education in the destination country.
  • Obtaining health insurance (you may not be eligible for the country’s own health program). If you are over 65 and have Medicare in the U.S., you need to know that Medicare provides no coverage outside of the U.S. Similarly, you may lose access to in-person VA benefits in the U.S.
  • Opening bank accounts.
  • Purchasing and licensing a vehicle in another country (if needed)
  • Finding housing
  • Paying taxes in the destination country and the U.S.
  • And lifestyle issues including developing social contacts, moving your children into local schools (and language classes), and learning local cultural norms. For example, many countries lack the sense of urgency that is common in the U.S. – it can take months to hire a repair person, and in some countries, work life is 6-7 hours per day – and things close up late afternoon.

Taxes

The US is one of only 2 countries in the world that taxes income earned anywhere in the world. The effect is you have to pay taxes both to the US and the country where you live. In some situations, there are tax treaties that reduce or eliminate double taxation on income. However, if you have capital gain income from the sale of real estate or stocks, you likely pay capital gains tax in both countries. If you wish to renounce your US citizenship, you are required to pay an “exit fee” equal to 30% of all of your assets. For older Americans who may have savings, investments and real estate (e.g. home), this is likely an unaffordable option.

Seeing online forum posts from Americans proclaiming they will leave the country highlights how – literally – naive these people are. They have not spent 15-30 minutes searching online for information on moving overseas. If they are that naive, there is little likelihood they have the ability to move overseas.

By EdwardM

One thought on “You don’t like how the country is going: Can you just pack up and move to another country?”

Comments are closed.