How to Retire in the USA from Canada
We get a lot of Canadians asking us how can they retire in the US.
Many baby boomers and elderly Canadians entering retirement are looking to settle in a warmer climate especially during the harsh Canadian winter months.
No Retirement Visa for the US
The challenge is that there is really no “retirement visa” for the US. I don’t know why to be frank because a lot of “snowbirds” from Canada have a lot of money to invest in the US and are a main source of tourist dollars there. In any case, immigration law is what it is and the advise we give people wishing to move down south is that they can “visit” the US typically a maximum of 6 months of the year. In some cases, they can stay longer but the challenge is that as visitors, they have to not sever their ties to Canada. And spending the majority of time in the US, makes it hard to convince a US Customs officer that you have not given up on Canada and made the US your home.
There are legitimate ways of course to demonstrate to US Customs that despite your lengthy visit to the US, you have not abandoned Canada as your permanent place of residence. For example, you should have with you, when you cross into the US, proof of your home or rental accommodations, banking, family and any employment in Canada in case you are asked. You should also know where you are going in the US, how long you will be staying and when you will be returning to Canada.
What if I want a Visa for the US?
If you intend to spend a lengthy period of time in the US, you may want to consider applying for a US Visa that would enable you to live there during the validity of the Visa. However, getting a US visa is not always easy. As mentioned, there is no “retirement visa” for the US. This means that if you are considering getting a US Visa, you would need to work or study in the US. In terms of Work Visas, many Canadians reaching retirement age, consider getting E-2 Visas. E-2 Visas are investor visas whereby you make an investment in a new or existing business. E-2 Visas are valid typically for 5 years and can be renewed. Many of our clients live in the US on E-2 Visas for many many years. But regardless, E-2 Visas are always temporary in nature.
What if I want US Permanent Residence?
The other type of Visa that many retirees consider is the E-B5 Visa which leads to US Permanent Residence or a Green Card. The E-B5 visa requires a large investment usually $500,000 and up and requires a high net worth. You can invest in any business but there are restrictions in terms of number of US employers that would be hired as a result of the E-B5 investment. E-B5 Visas are becoming more and more popular for Canadians and it is a main way of getting US status for snowbirds wishing retire in the US
Where do I turn for help as a Canadian for US Retirement?
The first thing you should do is research the topic. Educate yourself in the various visas, and also tax issues that will impact your decision to move south. If you decide to make the move hire professionals to help you. A cross border accountant familiar with Canadian/US tax issues is invaluable. Further, you should consider retaining the services of an immigration lawyer who has experience with Snowbirds wishing to move to the US. The lawyer can explore options for you and make sure that you are on the right track in terms of applying for the US visa that will work best for you!
About Michael Niren
Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more
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