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How to Retire in the USA as a Foreigner: 4 Things to Know



Moving to the US after retirement is a dream for many. But whether it is to live in a country where you have already been expatriated, to join children working there, or simply to experience the American dream, moving to the United States is far from being an easy project, both administratively and financially.

In order to peacefully retire abroad, everything must be well-prepared in advance.

What Are the Visa Requirements to Retire in the USA

There is no specific visa to settle in the United States after retirement, and in general, obtaining a permanent visa is almost impossible.

If you can enter the country with a simple electronic travel authorization, this document does not allow you to stay longer than 3 months.

The green card (or permanent residence visa) is difficult to obtain: the process is very long (sometimes several years) and is subject to certain conditions, particularly in terms of resources.

It is simpler to consider dual European-American residency in order to settle in the United States after retirement.

This option allows you to apply for a B2 visa, which allows you to reside 6 months per year in the country. It is quite simple to obtain, but requires :

  • To fill out an application form
  • Pay the visa fee
  • Prove that you plan to return to your country of origin, for example by showing that you still have family in the country, or that you have a place to live.

Of course, this solution has a price, especially because of the round trips to be made between the two countries. Retiring to the USA is expensive.

Receiving Your Pension After Retirement in the United States

Another important point to know before settling in the USA for retirement is obviously the payment of your pension. If the expatriate’s main residence remains in Europe, there are no particular steps to take.

However, if the expatriate resides permanently in the United States, he or she must notify his or her pension funds of his or her move in order to continue to receive his or her pension, and send them a certificate of existence each year, or else payments will be interrupted.

There is also a social security agreement between European countries and the United States for people who have worked in both countries during their careers.

Taxes When Retiring to the USA

The payment of taxes for the expatriate who has chosen to retire to the USA depends on his tax residence. If he resides at least 183 days per year in a European country, he is considered a European tax resident and therefore pays his taxes in his country.

But beware: regardless of the expatriate’s country of tax residence, sums may be due in his country of origin as well as in the US, for example for real estate.

A bilateral tax treaty exists to avoid the risk of double taxation, but it is essential to find out more about your individual situation.

Health Insurance for Retirees Living in the US

Health care is probably the most important point to keep in mind when considering retirement in the USA. When you start to age, it is essential to have easy access to good health care, without having to leave all your savings behind.

Unfortunately, on this subject, the USA has a bad reputation, which is largely justified, since the fees charged there are prohibitive.

Health care in the USA is at the patient’s expense, and it is, therefore, essential to take out international health insurance in the form of a 1st dollar contract to cover:

  • Repatriation in case of problems
  • Routine care
  • Hospitalization
  • Short stay in the country of origin if the insured is no longer affiliated with his Social Security.

It is strongly advised not to take out insurance at the last minute, as not all companies accept policyholders over 65 years of age, or apply significant additional premiums.

Frequently Asked Questions about Retirement in the USA

Is there a visa for retirees who want to move to the US?

No. It is very complicated to settle in the USA for more than three months. Indeed, after this period, it is necessary to obtain a green card.

Where does a European retiree living in the USA have to pay his taxes?

It depends on his tax resident status. You should find out if there is a bilateral convention between the two countries to avoid double taxation.

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This is also interesting:

What countries should I move to? The best countries to move to are not the same for everyone! Finding the ideal destination depends first of all on what is expected on a personal level.

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