If the midterm election results have you considering an international move, you might be wondering how to relocate.
While not everyone’s decision to leave the U.S. is politically motivated, Marco Permunian, founder of Italian Citizenship Assistance, which has helped thousands of clients obtain Italian citizenship, said his office “saw huge spikes in 2016 with the elections and COVID, riots and then with the abortion ruling” this summer.
But interest in relocation isn’t always transatlantic, given the U.S. friendly neighbors to the north and south. However, moving to Canada or Mexico is not as simple as just booking a flight or showing up at the border. Each country has its own rules for migrants, and Americans may need to consider eligibility requirements, the timeline of their desired move and other factors.
Here’s what to know about how moving to Canada and Mexico works.
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Can I move to Canada? Can I move to Mexico? The rules vary.
In general: yes. There are ways to move to both countries, but the requirements differ and there are hoops to jump through on either side of the border.
Read on for more details.
How do I move to Canada as an American?
While there are numerous processes for moving to Canada, Cristina Guida, a Canadian immigration lawyer with Green and Spiegel LLP, said the easiest way for Americans to relocate permanently is through the Express Entry system, which is used to manage immigration applications from skilled workers, and includes three immigration programs.
Applicants must submit proof of at least one to two years of work experience, depending on the program they apply through, along with other documentation, including language tests (in either English or French), and a passport or other travel documents, according to the Government of Canada website. Each application generates a score that dictates whether the country will invite them to apply for residency.
Because of a backlog of applications due to COVID-19 and other factors, Guida said, the process can take between one and two years.
Canadian citizens and permanent residents can also sponsor close relatives to move to Canada, including their spouses, children and parents.
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In addition to pursuing permanent residency, there are more immediate – albeit temporary – options, Guida said. Americans can apply for a work permit if they fall into one of the professional categories outlined by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement – ranging from accountants to management consultants – and have proof of employment or a contract to work in Canada.
“The great thing (for) U.S. citizens is they don’t need pre-approval to apply for a work permit provided they meet all the requirements,” she said. “They can apply for a work permit right at the Canadian border.”
She said applicants who are granted a work permit can stay for the duration of their employment – permits are typically issued for two to three years – with the option to renew. Employees whose companies have offices in Canada can also seek out an intra-company transfer, though they must have been working as an executive, senior manager or in a “specialized knowledge role” full-time for at least a year to qualify, Guida added.
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How do I move to Mexico as an American?
The two easiest ways to qualify for residency in Mexico are by income or real estate ownership.
According to Miguel Jimenez, business immigration director at the Mexico office of the Fragomen law firm, the country provides visa opportunities for extended stays of up to four years.
For retirees it can be especially easy to move to Mexico, so long as you can prove you have investments or bank accounts with a monthly ending balance of about $43,000.00 over the previous 12 months.
Mitch Burgos, an attorney at Easy Legal Mexico, told USA TODAY that for non-retirees, it’s usually easier to qualify for residency by purchasing property than it is through the financial solvency options because those are supposed to be for retirees only.
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Although non-Mexicans are technically ineligible to buy property in the country, most foreigners can do it by working with an organization of record in Mexico.
“They’re borrowing the name of an institution, in this case, a fiduciary, to acquire a property here,” Burgos said.
He also noted that income-based qualifications reflect income earned outside of Mexico. Qualifying for a work permit is a different process.
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Can I keep my job and live in another country?
U.S. travelers visiting Canada on vacation can perform their existing jobs remotely as long as they are not entering the Canadian labor market, Guida said.
“So, like I work for Green and Spiegel, and then (if) I’m going on a business trip or I’m going on vacation … and I happen to do some work while I’m there, that’s fine,” she said, using the example of taking phone calls or sending emails. Travelers should also consult with a tax expert to understand the implications, she added.
But those wanting to stay in the country will need the approval of their employer, as well as permanent residency status or a work permit.
In Mexico, it can often be easier to qualify for residency if you work for a company and earn your income abroad.
“As long as you’re not getting any income from Mexico illegally, you’ll be fine,” Burgos said, adding that Mexico actively tries to attract remote workers as a way to bolster the country’s economy. He said that expats living in Mexico help by spending money on the ground there.
He also said Mexico’s tax policies are favorable to remote workers.
“We don’t have double taxation. If you’re not getting any money from Mexico, you don’ have to pay any taxes,” Burgos said.
Contributing: Eve Chen, USA TODAY
Story Credit: usatoday.com