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Are there any countries that are easy for a US citizen to move to?

With "easy" I am here not referring to aspects such as that the country is located geographically near continental USA. Rather I am interested about:

  1. countries that grant a residence permit to a US citizen nearly solely because the person is holding a US passport, or
  2. countries where the residence permit can be obtained by a small amount of money or investment in a bank account (let's say less than $10K USD) or without first securing employment in the country, or
  3. countries where there is no residence permit process at all, i.e. a person can just walk in and take residence in the country if they want to

In this case the US citizen:

  • Does not have any ancestral connections to any other country
  • Is either not highly skilled, or does not want to take the time of first finding employment in the target country

I understand that many countries allow for an expedited immigration process for individuals that are considered highly skilled, esp. when the process is initiated by a company that wants to hire the individual. In this case I am not looking for the possibility to obtain a residence permit where the individual does not yet know whether they will find work in the country, or not.

closed as too broad by Scott Earle, Mark Mayo Sep 29 '15 at 13:51

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Why would a country want someone who's neither highly skilled, nor rich or related? Every country has more than enough poor people already. – littleadv Nov 26 '14 at 20:05
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    downvoters, please explain. this is a great question. for example google rentista in costa rica - you can immigrate if you have $60,000 or can prove you earn at least $2,500/month – Anthony Damico Nov 27 '14 at 11:38
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    But you talked about "less than 10k" and unemployed. – littleadv Nov 28 '14 at 5:01
  • Sorry, I was trying to edit the question with a higher amount than 10K afterwards, but I get a 404 error. – x457812 Dec 1 '14 at 0:15
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I know of only one territory that seems to fit your requirements: Svalbard. The US is a signatory of the Svalbard treaty and as a US citizen you don't need to transit through Norway so you could in principle just board a plane and take up residence in Svalbard. Life is not necessarily cheap or easy there.

There are some countries where retirees can get visas relatively easily. You do need to show you will have some income and/or funds in the bank but the requirements are typically not very high (from a US or European perspective), much lower than what's required for investor's visa and the like. As a random example, Thailand lists about $25,000, which is more than your 10,000 threshold but still pretty low. But that's presumably not what you are looking for and you wouldn't have the right to work with such a visa.

Incidentally, France recently introduced a similar visa to allow Thai citizens to do the same in the other direction but the financial requirements are very high indeed.

Finally, many people just (mis)use tourists visas, doing “visa runs” to extend their stay and working illegally (remotely or not). Even if that's not allowed, enforcement is sometimes very lax and you can find many stories of people getting away with this (not in the US or Western Europe but I have heard stories about Georgia, Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil…).

See also https://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/2310/which-countries-if-any-offer-on-arrival-work-visas

  • What do you mean "not in the US"??? Quite a few of the 12 million illegals in the US did exactly that - visa runs. – littleadv Nov 28 '14 at 5:02
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    @littleadv What do you mean? My understanding is that most undocumented migrants (certainly in Western Europe) overstayed a visa at some point. A visa run is something else, it means going to the border, leaving to a neighbouring country and reentering immediately to get another visa-on-arrival or visa-free stay. It's not even illegal per se, it's just that in the Schengen area for example it does not buy you anything and in places like the UK, the new stay is at the discretion of the border guard and the trick is unlikely to work several times. Would that work in the US? – Gala Nov 28 '14 at 8:24
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Cambodia comes pretty close. Business (E) visas are handed out to essentially anybody with a pulse, cost around US$300 for one year, and are (currently) renewable essentially forever. And if you're not planning on working in Cambodia, this is all you need to stay legally.

If you do wish to work, even remotely, or start your own business, you will need a work permit as well for around $100/year, plus any costs associated with employing yourself through a company. Long a dead letter, Cambodia started (kinda-sorta) enforcing this rule in 2014.

However, while this is a viable short-term option, there are absolutely zero guarantees that you can keep doing this. There is no defined path to permanent residency, and short of forking out a cool $400k or learning to speak Khmer and marrying a Cambodian citizen, neither is there a clear path to citizenship.

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Sounds to me like you might find this an interesting read: http://www.expatlaw.nl/dutch_american_friendship_treaty.htm

From what I can tell all you need to do is find something to do to be considered self-employed and earn enough to support yourself, or you can find a Dutch business to invest in.

The Netherlands is a lovely country, but people can be a bit funny about foreigners sometimes. Their default stance on immigration seems to be very restrictive, but it would appear that they like Americans, given the Friendship Treaty. Pretty much everyone speaks English as well, especially in the big cities.

As far as money goes, all you have to invest is a minimum of €4500 in a business (either your own or someone else's), there are no language requirements, and the initial residence permit is valid for 2 years. The website says lots of people in software, writers, musicians, graphic design, etc (jobs that you can do anywhere) are what most of their clients do.

I'm sure there are some other gotchas, but you will have to look further into it yourself to see if you meet their requirements.

Hope that helps!

  • This is the route I will be taking. As a teleworking software engineer, this seems to be my only option until I save up 1.25 million in euros. The only drawback to this route is that you have to be self-sufficient. You would not be allowed to work for a Dutch company without changing your visa. – Owen Jun 17 '15 at 15:18
  • @Owen but you can set up a Dutch company that in turn works for other Dutch companies. – phoog Sep 26 '15 at 5:19
  • @phoog: Yes. I meant you cannot be a direct employee to a Dutch company. B2B work is allowed, of course. – Owen Sep 26 '15 at 16:11
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Egypt is cheap and you can get three-month tourist residence visas and essentially keep renewing them forever (although recently it seems that the gov't has been making some half-hearted attempts to enforce a six-month max in one year policy, not sure that will stick). I've been living here for around 7 years. A lot of expats earn a living working under the table at english language schools or giving private english lessons.

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