Retiring to the USA
By Maria Thermann

Retiring to the USA

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Retiring to somewhere sunny like Florida seems, at least on paper, a wonderful idea - until you start reading up about the many hurdles US Immigration have put in place to keep people out. In order to retire to the Sunny State you will need a green card - even as a retiree - as this is the direct way to obtain permanent residency for retirees. This will also allow you to apply for full US citizenship after having lived in the country for five years. Finding your way around the complicated application process for a green card is virtually impossible without the help of an immigration lawyer or similar agent.

You can smooth the way to obtain a green card with the EB-5 Green Card via Investment program, provided you have US$ 500,000 ready to invest in a pre-approved US enterprise, such as a US registered business.

EB5 makes it possible for you to reside in the US permanently and be the proud recipient of a green card, which would allow you to be involved with your own business, should you get restless during your retirement. If you are thinking of buying a property in the US with the view of retiring there in the future, you should contact an immigration lawyer or expert on US immigration first, before committing to the purchase. If, on the other hand, the property is merely for the purpose of holidays, you can enjoy a stay in the USA for up to three months at a time on a visitor's visa, but you must not be working in the USA in any capacity whatsoever during your stay.

This means you must make sure that renting out your holiday home during your absence is not being classed as working for an income. Some immigration lawyers also deal with tax planning and property purchases. Be sure to ask for expert advice before letting your holiday home in Florida or elsewhere in the US.

So what exactly is EB-5?

The short-cut to a green card means investing a minimum of US$500,000 in a government-approved business. Once that has been finalised, an applicant and their spouse can move to the USA and live there. They will be issued with a conditional green card, which can be replaced with permanent residency after two years. It also provides the applicant and their spouse with the potential to apply for fully naturalised US citizen status after five years of living in the USA.

It sounds easy enough for those who have the money to invest - but several caveats apply. For example, the business you invest in must provide at least 10 US citizens with employment within the first two years of investing your money. You will not be forced to run the business yourself as a retiree! You will become a "limited partner" and can leave the day-to-day management of the business to the general partner of the government-approved business. This allows you to reap the benefits of a successful business, and enjoy the sunshine of somewhere like California or Florida at leisure.

EB-5 is not an official retirement visa, as such a visa does not exist at the time of writing. However, EB-5 is a good solution for people who want to move to the USA in their retirement, but perhaps still be involved in business in some capacity. If you have a property to sell in your home country and want to move abroad, the money you receive for your property at home may well cover a home purchase in a state like Florida and pay for the EB-5 investment program. Away from the greater Miami area property prices in Florida can be surprisingly low and you will get "a lot of house" for your money in addition to world-class theme-and amusement parks and other amenities within a reasonable driving distance of your retirement home. National parks, stunning golf courses, year-round sunshine and warm temperatures make Florida a fabulous place to retire to, especially if you enjoy an outdoor lifestyle.

You will need comprehensive health insurance to cover all your needs and should remember that bringing medicines into the US can be difficult, as there are various restrictions and prohibitions on the import of certain prescribed drugs into the USA.

For up-to-date information, you should consult the US Department of Homeland Security's website: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1160/kw/prescription%20medicine

For more information on the EB-5 Green Card via Investment program, please visit https://www.uscis.gov/eb-5.

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