What are countries to which a US citizen can easily immigrate/move?
February 6, 2008 5:16 PM   Subscribe

What are countries to which a US citizen can easily immigrate/move?

Immigration in the sense of dealing with bureaucracy--as in, it is much easier for a german to move to austria than an american, for the german is already a EU citizen. In terms of ease, discount things like different culture and language.
posted by fjardt to Law & Government (17 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
New Zealand is very open to American immigration. I looked into it when I was there and the Dept of Immigration was downright friendly. You still need to prove why they should let you in; skill set, financial independence, job offer, spouse, etc -- but they aren't going to discourage you from trying.

I'm in the process of immigrating to Australia now. It's less pleasant, but I'm on a spouse-visa and the hardest question they asked me at my interview was, "do you have any questions?"

I think the trick with a lot of richer nations is getting a job offer and having the company deal with immigration for you. That's just what I hear from a lot of the ex-pats I meet.
posted by xz at 5:42 PM on February 6, 2008

This question is similar and might have some good advice for you.
posted by jessamyn at 5:59 PM on February 6, 2008

If you're interested in starting your own business, there's a 'friendship treaty' between the U.S. and the Netherlands. You need to have a business, a business plan, health insurance, and to invest at least EUR4500 (that'd be a shade over $6,600 in today's greenbacks). You can even take your family if you can show you can support them.

It's a pretty fantastic deal, as far as I can tell. If I wasn't an EU citizen already, I'd be jealous ;)
posted by lowlife at 6:24 PM on February 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

Are you planning on marrying a citizen of that country?
Do you have specific skills that are needed in that country? Even better, a possible job offer?
Do you have enough money to support yourself without working?

If any of the above are true then it suddenly becomes much easier to emigrate to another country. Even then, some countries have more stringent requirements than others.

If you want to go to the EU and are highly paid/educated then you may qualify for something like the HSMP program which allows you to go to the UK and look for a job.

Being an American puts you on the A-list of countries that other countries want. But you cant just walk up and ask to immigrate there and be granted it. You have to fulfill at least one of the above criteria.
posted by vacapinta at 7:07 PM on February 6, 2008

Japan's actually not all that hard to immigrate to, all you need is a BA and someone to hire you (search online for "teach english in Japan"), and you can get a work visa to teach English. If you have actualy skills, you might be able to find a better job. Permanent residency will take a long time (around 10 years if you're not married to a Japanese, ~3 if you are), and actual citizenship is nigh impossible I believe.

I came with the giant english company Nova, which took about 6 months. A couple friends of mine interviewed online with a small school back in November, and they'll be here in March. Doesn't get much faster than that.
posted by Jhoosier at 8:20 PM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've recommended this book in similar past threads, but here goes again!

Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America
posted by nitsuj at 8:36 PM on February 6, 2008 [6 favorites]

GCC countries (UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, etc.) are quite easy to immigrate to for Westerners (USA/European). Find an employer to be your "sponsor" and the rest is taken care of with very few questions asked.
posted by xanthippe at 9:18 PM on February 6, 2008

As an American currently in the process of immigrating to Canada, it's quite easy as long as you have a job that's at least somewhat in-demand. NAFTA work visas make working while all the immigration paperwork is getting sorted out quite easily (which can take up to three years) and provincial nominee programs (BC's is here) make the process much faster.
posted by Nelsormensch at 9:42 PM on February 6, 2008

I moved to South Africa from the US recently. I only went for a 2-year temp visa but it was super easy. I was coming for work, however.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:44 PM on February 6, 2008

GCC countries (UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, etc.) are quite easy to immigrate to for Westerners (USA/European). Find an employer to be your "sponsor" and the rest is taken care of with very few questions asked.

For some questionable values of immigrate. You will never get citizenship of permanent residency (except if you buy land) in the UAE. Oman is much easier (I think three years residency) and I don't know about the others.
posted by atrazine at 11:54 PM on February 6, 2008

As an American who has spent one third of his adult life living and working outside the US, I'd advise that you take this first step very carefully.

I've been living in London for the past eleven years, no problem. But now the British government has proposed draconian changes to tax rules pertaining to long term ex-pats.

Bottom line - they now want an additional £30K pa, or the ability to levy taxes on global assets. The UK system is much more aggressive in that regard; i.e., you hit the top tax tier at a much lower income level than in the US, and in the UK the top rate is 40% so this is quite a hit.

The ex-pat network here is in quote a tizzy; several friends have already left and others are rushing to sell flats, etc before the April 6th deadline.

As it would seem even England is capable of capricious change and South American style asset grabs I'd counsel you to very, very carefully evaluate whatever country you do end up moving to.

Ok but back to your question - I moved to England because my job (I work in banking) moved here. So I was tied to an employer via a work permit when I first arrived. After four years (now five I believe) I could get what's called "Indefinite Leave to Remain"; the UK equivalent of US Green Card. Permanent residence, in other words.

Unless you mess up big time they can't easily get rid of you at that point (unless the laws change, see taxes above) and you're here for the duration. You can't reside outside the UK for more than two years, and you've got make sure that every time you leave the country you've got the Indefinite Leave stamp with you as I"ve heard of folks who has lost the right of abode due to clerical errors at Immigration (I'm on a plane pretty much every week so I just keep this in my travel bag now).

One year after getting Indefinite Leave you're eligible for naturalisation, the British passport.

I think England is pretty easy to get into these days, especially so because of the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme.
posted by Mutant at 1:01 AM on February 7, 2008

I'm surprised nobody mentioned the obvious. The easiest are the countries of Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, etc.
posted by JJ86 at 6:29 AM on February 7, 2008

Puerto Rico, Guam, US VI etc are not countries. They are territories of the US.
posted by the dief at 6:48 AM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

On the off chance it doesn't come up in one of those other lists, that country up north from you has a free trade treaty that makes getting a work visa very easy. Becoming a landed immigrant (equivalent to a US green card) is also pretty simple.
posted by GuyZero at 7:15 AM on February 7, 2008

Puerto Rico, Guam, US VI etc are not countries.

Yeah, really, JJ86 -- what's your point? The question's about easy emmigration, not avoiding taxes.
posted by Rash at 4:31 PM on February 7, 2008

An American can become a Georgian very quickly.
posted by tarvuz at 1:49 AM on February 8, 2008

I'll second New Zealand and throw Australia in, too. I got to NZ on a one-year working holiday visa and have been presented with several opportunities to stay down here indefinitely. The unemployment rate in Wellington is 2.5 percent right now, and the country is well near bleeding Kiwis to Australia and the UK, as far as I can tell.
posted by lunalaguna at 1:51 AM on February 8, 2008

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