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Retirement for Expats in the United States Of America

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: October 2013

Visa issue

Many people have thought of retiring to the US. If you are a US citizen and retired in another country, there is no restriction on returning to live in the US. However, for people who do not hold a US citizenship, this can be difficult. The main barrier is getting a long term resident permit. 

There is no specific retirement visa in US. Many people retire to the US on a six month in, six month out condition. To get such extended resident permits, among other requirements, you need to buy a home in US and then apply for a B-2 extended tourist visa. Otherwise you may only apply for a tourist visa for 90 days. Further information about temporary visas can be found here https://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1286.html .

If you would like to get an EB-5 visa you will need to invest at least USD500,000 in a US business. This can be a new company or you can buy an existing company but each business should create at least 10 jobs directly or indirectly. You and your partner will be granted a conditional visa for two years. If your business still meets the requirements at the end of the two years, you and your partner will be granted a permanent resident visa.  For more information, you can check here https://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=facb83453d4a3210VgnVCM100000b92ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=facb83453d4a3210VgnVCM100000b92ca60aRCRD.
If you are the spouse or parent of a US citizen, you should be able to apply for a permanent resident visa which will not be subject to the US global immigration quota. For more information, you can check here https://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1322.html.

You may also consider the Diversity Visa (DV) Program. More information can be found here: https://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1322.html.


Medical care and insurance

Another issue to be considered is health insurance. Currently, the US does not have a system of socialised medicine, federal subsidised health insurance or any similar program. However, the US Government does provide health care insurance for most individuals aged 65 or older. For others, health insurance is predominantly procured through private medical insurance. You are generally responsible for all your health care expenses unless you have medical insurance or you are eligible to claim free prescriptions. There are many types of medical insurers in US with several dominating a few specific states. It is suggested to seek advice before you choose medical insurance. 


Thinking about tax

Tax is a significant part of our lives. Generally, citizens and resident aliens (residents) of the US are subject to US tax on worldwide income. Non-resident aliens (non-residents) are subject to US tax on income solely generated in in the US or is deemed to have a US source. It is always recommended that you consider the tax consequences before you retire to US as a permanent resident.     


Popular retirement places

To decide where to retire, some of the following points may be considered: the proximity of family and friends, a peaceful and quiet environment, the climate, local costs including house prices and daily expenses, local services such as access to health services and transportation. Retirement homes or villages may also be considered.  You can get ideas online from sites such as this https://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/retirement/T006-S001-10-great-retirement-cities-in-the-u-s/index.html.


Financial planning

Most people would like to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living. However, many of them find their savings will not last as long as they expect. For example, as stated in recent research from HSBC, UK retirement lasts about 19 years on average and financial problems are likely to emerge after 7 years. The report can be found here: https://www.newsroom.hsbc.co.uk/press/release/brits_face_12_years_of_hardshi.  It is therefore recommended to have a detailed financial plan for retirement as early as possible. 



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