The United States is great place to live, but there are a growing number of citizens looking to move outside of its borders, particularly as they approach retirement age. Moreover, at least 1,788 Americans officially renounced their citizenship in 2011, exceeding the totals of 2007, 2008 and 2009 combined, according to data from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Requirements for permanent visas vary from country to country. There are a few key similarities that emerge among countries from around the world. While marrying a new husband or wife may provide residency in most cases, this article will discuss some easier ways to obtain a permanent visa that can eventually turn into citizenship over time.
SEE: What Americans Need To Know About Living Abroad
Retirement and Guaranteed Income
Many countries try to attract retirees that have guaranteed income, since they do not seek jobs and spend money on local goods and services. For instance, Panama's well-known pensionista program not only provides a permanent visa to live in the country, but also offers many tax advantages and even discounts to those retiring in the Central American country.
Many times, countries will also offer a permanent visa to those that can prove guaranteed income over their lifetime. For example, Costa Rica's rentista visa provides a five-year visa - that can usually be converted to a permanent visa after three years - to those who can show a guaranteed income stream coming in from a source outside of the country's borders.
The major requirement for these programs is a guaranteed income, which can include company pensions, social security, annuities or other similar programs. There are, of course, some exceptions for foreign income originated from a telecommuting job, as long as the employment contract is long-term and from a reputable international company.
Investments and Starting a Business
Investing in real estate is another great way to obtain a permanent visa in many countries. These countries benefit by boosting their property tax revenues and real estate markets through foreign investment. For instance, Thailand's investment visa provides a permanent visa to those investing more than 10,000,000 THB (US$318,450) in real estate.
Other countries have similar investment visas for those looking to start companies or those who are self-employed. For example, Canada's Self-Employed Visa and Entrepreneur Immigrant programs provide routes to permanent residency for those who are either self-employed or looking to start a company within the country's borders.
Countries are always seeking new ways to foster job growth and boost asset prices, which makes these visas possible. While the terms for these investment visas differ from country to country, many countries around the world offer very affordable possibilities to U.S. citizens, particularly in Southeast Asia and Latin America.
The Bottom Line
Those looking to obtain a permanent visa under one of these programs should consult a lawyer that specializes in immigration in the country of your choice. In addition, a lot of information can be found on the country's embassy website or by contacting representatives at these embassies for more information on the requirements and application process.
Those moving from the U.S. should also remember that worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax regardless of the person's country of residence.
In the end, a permanent visa to live in a foreign country can be obtained in a variety of different ways. From real estate investment to retirement income, many countries can help you establish a path towards residency.