Want to leave the US? Here’s how to move to Canada, Mexico and Europe as an American.

Want to leave the US? Here’s how to move to Canada, Mexico and Europe as an American.


  • The number of Americans considering moving to Canada, Mexico or Europe has increased over the past 12 months.
  • Some are interested in moving internationally for reasons such as better quality of life, health care and more affordable retirement.
  • There are several ways to move to Canada, Mexico or Europe, depending on your profile and which visa is right for you.

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Presidential debates, Supreme Court decisions, or political differences may have some Americans considering – or revisiting – the idea of an international move

Attorney Jean-Francois Harvey of Harvey Law Group, a Miami-based firm assisting U.S. clients with immigration services, said his office has noticed increased demand over the past 12 months. 

“Indeed, there’s a lot of (people) who are wondering what’s happening in the U.S., and most of them want a Plan B,” Harvey told USA TODAY. “As the election comes, more people will say, maybe it’s more than a Plan B.”

However, according to Harvey, not all moves are due to political uncertainty. Others are interested in moving internationally for reasons such as better quality of life, health care and more affordable retirement. 

While many people are interested in moving to Mexico or Canada because of their proximity to the U.S., Harvey said Europe is actually the most in demand among his clientele, particularly Spain and France. He attributes that to many Americans being comfortable with the Spanish language and also how fast the Spanish and French visa process can be, possibly just a month. 

Here’s what to know about moving to Canada, Mexico, or Europe. 

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Can I move to Canada? Can I move to Mexico? Can I move to Europe?

Yes, you can move to Canada, Mexico, or somewhere in Europe. It all depends on how you meet that country’s requirements and which visa is right for you. 

“What is the best way for them to enter the country and stay in the country?” Harvey said. “It all depends on your profile, like age and qualifications.” For example, depending on your profession, you could open a business in Canada and move there relatively quickly to start the business and then do the visa process later on. 

Another important factor to take into consideration is taxes, Harvey said. Many countries in Europe as well as Mexico and Canada have a double taxation agreement with the U.S. so you won’t be paying the same taxes twice. 

Also, consider how easy it is to return home and see family and friends. For some places in Europe, there are many flights to and from the U.S. For Mexico and Canada, it could be a quick flight or an easy drive across the border. 

How do I move to Canada as an American?

The easiest way for an American to relocate to Canada is through the Express Entry system, aimed at three types of skilled immigrants who want to settle in Canada, according to the Government of Canada website. Depending on the program, applicants must submit proof of at least one to two years of work experience plus other documentation like education assessments and language tests. After completing the required documentation, applicants will get a score that will determine if they can apply for residency. Unfortunately, the process can be slow, possibly up to two years, Harvey said.

You may be luckier if you have close relatives in Canada, like a child or parent, who can sponsor you. Applicants can also look for a work permit if their work falls into one of the professional categories, such as accounting, of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Work permits are usually issued for two to three years and can be renewed. 

How do I move to Mexico as an American?

One of the most straightforward ways to move to Mexico is through its retirement program, Harvey said. To apply for permanent residency in Mexico, you must prove you have at least $292,858 in investments or your bank account during the previous 12 months, or at least $7,321.47 in monthly income from your job or pension after taxes. 

Another way to move to Mexico is by purchasing property, which is technically illegal for non-Mexican citizens who want to purchase within 30 miles of the coastline but can be done through an organization of record. In that case, you’d be using the name of an institution when purchasing. 

How do I move to Europe as an American?

There are two easy ways to move to Europe as an American, according to Harvey. The first method is if you have ancestral ties to the country. Dozens of countries – such as Portugal, Spain and France – offer citizenship through descent, but it depends on how many generations ago. 

“There are a lot of programs out there based on ancestry; just the fact your great-grandfather is Spanish is enough to get a full citizenship in Spain,” he said. 

Italy’s citizenship by descent “is based on the principle of ‘jure sanguinis’ (right of blood),” according to the Italian Consulate of London. You just have to prove you have an Italian ancestor who emigrated abroad and was born in Italy, even if it was over a century ago.

France requires you to have one French grandparent and parent who will also apply for citizenship. French language speaking is not required. 

Many European countries also offer digital nomad visas, which allow you to live abroad and work remotely for a company elsewhere, so long as you meet a few requirements. Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal are just a few of the countries that offer that type of visa. 

For Spain’s digital nomad visa, you must show certification of working for at least three months, proof of residence in Spain and financial means of at least 200% of the monthly Spanish national minimum wage of 1,134 euros (about $1,217), according to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation. An applicant’s children and spouse can also apply for that visa. 

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at kwong@usatoday.com.

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