Retiring to America
Among would-be emigrants it's common knowledge that there is no visa available for internationals looking to retire to America writes Lana Clements
Yet, that does not deter a great number of Brits who continue to emigrate across the pond to America after retiring from work in the UK. But as immigration attorney Chris Ingram says, "Retiring in the US is very difficult indeed. Unless the alien has an immediate US citizen family relative who can sponsor them then they cannot simply come into the US to retire." However, your dream of retiring in the US shouldn't be completely written off just because you don't have family already living there. Ingram explains, "We do indeed receive a number of wealthy prospects who simply want to retire in the US and have no immediate qualifying sponsors. We have to come up with inventive ways to see if we can help them achieve a form semi-retirement. For example, by buying a business which they can own and lightly supervise with good management in place under the E-2 visa."
If you are interested in buying a business in the US as a retirement venture, Ingram advises: "The best businesses for retirees would be any that are not labour intensive and one that can be easily supervised to minimise the strain on them as they get older." An E-2 visa is the route that many emigrants choose to follow when retiring in the US. However, it is not without its problems. The visa has a number of stringent conditions, which holders have to follow. The visa must be periodically renewed, and there is always the possibility that re-issue may be denied. Chris comments, "There is some talk in Congress to enable E-2 holders to eventually, after a number of years in E-2 status, convert to a green card, but no such law has yet been passed or even formalised into a bill yet."
The EB-5 visa is promoted by some emigration companies as a more viable retirement visa. Richard Robinson from property management company American Life comments about the requirements and benefits of the the visa as follows: "The EB-5 requires a minimum investment of $500,000 and the employment of ten people. The great attraction of this visa is that it leads directly to a green card. Successful applicants and their immediate family enter the US with permanent residency, enjoying virtually the same privileges as a US citizen." Robinson adds, "In practical terms, it provides the freedom and flexibility to take any job, run any business and even to retire. Funds for the investment may be loans, gifts or from a pension fund. Self Invested Personal Pension investments are increasingly popular." According to Robinson, the EB-5 visa has grown in popularity since the reintroduction of the Regional Centre programme. These are Government approved investments based in a variety of regions across the country. He says, "The $500,000 investment includes husband, wife and all offspring under the age of 21 at the time the application is submitted. Regional Centres may rely on indirect employment and the investor may be passive, leaving the whole family free to do whatever they wish. The investment may be sold after approximately three years."
However, if you are not looking to make a business investment in the US, you could consider the possibility of semi-emigration. Many British citizens buy a second property in the US, and using the B-2 tourist visa, spend around six months of the year in the US. Investment specialist Amanda-Jo Nicholson says, "The B-2 tourist visa is designed to allow stays in the US for over the 90 days allowed on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), or for visitors to the US who do not qualify to use the VWP. The exact time allowed on each trip is determined by the Immigration Officer (USCIS) at the Port of Entry into the US on each visit." She continues, "Typically, a stay of six months will be allowed, however, there are criteria which a traveller should note if using a B-2 visa:
The traveller should carry documents to show they have sufficient funds to cover all expenses while in the United States.
Evidence to show that they have a residence abroad to which he/she intends to return at the end of their stay in the US. This is generally proven by evidence of family, professional, property, employment or other ties and commitments, which will cause the traveller to return their home country at the end of their stay.
The initial stay of six months may be extended for a further six months at the discretion of USCIS.
Nicholson comments, "One can see from these requirements that this does not allow for full-time residency in the United States. In general terms, if a person has spent a full six months in the United States in B-2 Tourist status, then they should remain outside the US for a further six months before re-entering. In practice, the time allowed and time spent outside the US is at the discretion of the USCIS official at the Port of Entry • so cases and times given can vary widely."
Retirement in the US may not be the easiest path, but there certainly are options. Research and planning is imperative, but with a few improvisations you may be able to find an arrangement that suits you and your circumstances down to the ground.