U.S. citizens are able to visit many countries as tourists, but living in a foreign country is a completely different ballgame. Each country has their own set of requirements for the application process so research is crucial!
Before I go any further, I want to make sure that everyone knows that you need a passport to visit or live in another country. Your driver’s license is not gonna cut it. If you don’t have one, please click here to find out how to get it. The process is pretty straight forward and takes 2-6 weeks to receive it in the mail.
Once you have your passport you’ll be able to apply for a visa. Visa applications are processed by your chosen country’s embassy/consulate assigned to your state. Click here for a list of embassy and consulate locations in major cities. For example, if you live in Georgia and wanted to move to Portugal, you would apply at the embassy in Washington D.C. For France, you would apply at the consulate in downtown Atlanta.
Some of the visa requirements vary between countries but the common ones are:
- Reason for moving. You need to explain why you’re moving there- for work, travel, school, retirement, to start a new business? Be prepared to show documentation to support your reason (work permit, accepted college application, business plan, etc.)
- Financial means. How will you support yourself in a foreign country? You will have to show proof of funds (savings, passive income, pension, money from family) to support your living expenses; at least 3 months or longer. Most long stay visas won’t allow you to work unless you are a student or have a work permit from a foreign employer, which is very difficult to obtain.
- Health insurance. You need to show coverage for at least 3 months, preferably with zero deductible. Contact the consulate/embassy for exact coverage requirements.
- Criminal Background Check. Again check with the consulate/embassy to find out if a criminal record report from your state or an FBI background check is required.
- Proof of Accommodations. Depending on the country, a hotel reservation for a few weeks will suffice but other countries look for a longer term arrangement like an Airbnb rental for a few months or even a lease contract!
If you have these 5 steps covered in your visa application then odds of approval are pretty good. Please contact your embassy/consulate with any questions you have before you submit your application. You don’t want to risk a rejected application because of a minor mistake or oversight.
Til next time!