Retirement abroad: How Millions of Americans Are Retiring Abroad

There Are More Options Than Most People Realize

Home > News > How Millions of Americans Are Retiring Abroad

How Millions of Americans Are Retiring Abroad

A retirement visa is a residence permit that allows you to spend your retirement years in a foreign destination.

More than 40 countries offer programs specifically designed for retirees. For Americans the most popular being Mexico and Ecuador.

These programs in general can be quite narrow and restrictive, typically with a minimum age, necessary income or asset value, and a range of requirements about not working, having health insurance, and similar limitations.

RESIDENCY-BY-INVESTMENT PROGRAMS CITIZENSHIP-BY-ANCESTRY PROGRAMS residence permit Retirement abroad Retiring Abroad Retirement Visa


A high percentage of prospective American emigrants stop looking at that point. That is a mistake as there are a number of additional programs available, possibly with fewer limitations and more extensive benefits.

We have grouped them into 4 types:

Citizenship-by-Ancestry (CBA),
Residency-by-Investment (RBI),
Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI),
and special cases.


It is commonly said that America is a land of immigrants, and as a result, many of us have ancestors from abroad.

Over 50 nations offer citizenship based on ancestry; a current or prospective retired person with overseas forebears may be eligible. Typically, they require at least one grandparent, although some are more demanding, and conditions do vary greatly.

It can be quite complex and therefore each must be examined separately, and we do recommend getting professional advice.

Nevertheless, if eligible, this can be a relatively quick and affordable way to obtain permanent residency or citizenship rights and the consequent privileges, such as subsidized healthcare and other social benefits.

The table below summarizes the key elements of the main programs for you.
(Please note: the table is a summary only. For more details, please talk to a trusted legal professional.)


A Residency-by-Investment Program (View all programmes) enables the candidate, be they retired or not, and their qualifying family members to reside, work, and study, in return for an investment in the new country.

While it varies for each program, there are ordinarily several options for how the investment can be made. For example, certain ones allow funds to be committed to approved real estate, both residential (frequently allowing owner occupation) and, for some, commercial property. Or there may be an accepted investment fund and other opportunities like donations. Again, each jurisdiction and regulatory framework are different and have their own particularities. These must be scrutinized to ascertain what best suits each person’s situation and goals.

Some of these RBIs have several more advantages. They usually allow the applicant and their family to use public healthcare, though they may require them to have health insurance. Admission to the local education system for members of the family, plus subsidized transport, and other costs for those over a certain age, may be obtainable. Favourable tax regimes, depending on the location, and ultimately a pathway to citizenship may also be pertinent.

The table below summarizes the key elements of the main programs for you.
(Please note: the table is a summary only. For more details, please talk to a trusted legal professional.)


    Share this article


    In return for committing a specific sum as an investment, CBIs grant citizenship and all its attendant rights, as well as a new passport. The most popular are the CBIs of the Caribbean island states, particularly Grenada and Antigua & Barbuda, along with Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Lucia, in Europe there are Montenegro and Turkey; and, in the Pacific, the island of Vanuatu.

    None of the Caribbean CBIs levy taxes on foreign income, nor do they have wealth or inheritance taxes, making them a viable alternative for tax optimization. In terms of travel and mobility, the five Caribbean nations all offer visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry to over 150 countries, with Grenada and Antigua & Barbuda having especially attractive passports. As well as gaining citizenship rights, including rights to healthcare, education, and social benefits, they also have relatively fast processing times (typically 6 to 8 months).

    Someone considering a CBI, or an RBI program should look at their personal objectives first and then compare those to the characteristics of each national policy.

    As an illustration, each of the above CBIs can be considered relatively more affordable than most RBIs, yet the positive features may be more substantial. Residence requirements are very limited or non-existent with these Caribbean approaches. Whether the goal is permanent residence or simply having an insurance policy in an ever-changing world, a CBI may better meet your needs.


    In addition to the above RBI, CBI, and CBA programs, there are a small number of other unique possibilities. Each are individual, general comments are often impracticable. However, the Thailand Elite program provides one good example.

    This is a long-term visa allowing the applicant residency in Thailand (View the programme) for 5 to 20 years, with membership costing from USD 16,600 to USD 54,900.

    The visa is automatically renewed annually, and recipients get a series of benefits. For instance, they receive fast track immigration entry, a complimentary VIP limousine to and from the airport, special access to open a Thai bank account or obtain a driver’s license, and a concierge to help with any government or administrative applications. There are also commercial bonuses, from discounts at various golf clubs, shops, and spas to other lifestyle rewards.

    Applying for the Thailand Elite Visa (See the programme) is usually very swift, taking approximately four weeks. Compared to most retirement visas, the process is simpler, requiring only a passport, a completed application form, and a photograph.


    Each of the programs outlined above has its own requirements and intricacies. As Jean-François Harvey, Founder and Worldwide Managing Partner of Harvey Law Group (HLG) points out, “The subject is potentially quite complex. We would suggest seeking professional advice if you need help to navigate through it.”

    In the United States, immigration-related advice is reserved for lawyers. Harvey Law Group (HLG) has more than 30 years’ experience in the immigration field and over 20 offices worldwide. Unlike agents or non-authorized firms, HLG is a professional immigration law firm and, as such, has an obligation to advise you on the best options and on the programs most suited to your goals.

    For more information about the Retirement Visas for U.S CItizens

    Please visit:

    If you have questions or would like a consultation,

    please contact HLG Miami office at [email protected]
    or call
    +1 352-331-7554.


    A Comparison of Citizenship by Investment options in the Caribbean Investment requirements caribbean passport

    Investment options in the Caribbean

    Learn about the various Citizenship by Investment options in the Caribbean and discover the key factors to consider when investing.
    Some text