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There’s a lot of chatter these days about people wanting to drop everything and leave the country, especially if the election doesn’t quite go their way. While an American passport lets you travel as easily and freely as almost any out there, visa-free stays abroad are typically capped at one to three months. In case you’re looking to extend your stay, here are six places around the world where English is either the native language or widely spoken — and expat communities are thriving. Keep in mind that everyone’s situation and visa needs are different, and a number of factors play into applying (length of stay, country, family background), so not everyone will experience the same level of ease.
Every four years, a wave of Americans threatens to head north after their presidential hopeful loses an election. And while the friendly Canadians and their progressive Prime Minister seem very welcoming, settling long term isn’t so easy — even if you qualify as a skilled worker or marry a Canadian citizen, the immigration process can take anywhere from five months to more than two years. Some professionals with a job offer, however, can apply for a special NAFTA visa, but that may not be an option for long if a certain candidate gets his way.
If poutine ain’t your thing or warmer weather is more your style, head south to Mexico, where Americans can lounge on a beach for up to six months sin visa. If you want a more permanent tan, apply for a four-year Temporary Resident Visa. Requirements vary by consulate, but generally you need to prove you have a $1,500 per month income or $25,000 in your savings account to be considered.
3. Australia and New Zealand
For an escape as far away as possible, our friends down under may be able to accommodate you. If you’re under the age of 30, one-year Working Holiday Visas are available in Australia and New Zealand. Or if you’re old enough to remember what an 8-track player was and you possess a needed skill, you might be able to stick around even longer. Motorcycle mechanic? Head down to Australia. Pig farmer? New Zealand could use your expertise.
4. The UK — and Ireland
While Britain continues to reel from its historic Brexit vote, the UK has presented itself as a compelling option, financially. With a job offer in hand, Americans can apply for a work visa, or else you can stay in the UK — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Island — for up to six months visa-free.
Across the Irish Sea, Ireland is firmly a member of the EU but offers some additional residency options. Having just one parent, grandparent or possibly even great-grandparent born in Ireland may be enough for you to claim Irish citizenship. For those over the age of 18 but under the age of 30 who are still full-time students — in college, graduate school, or are just a year out of either program — a 12-month Working Holiday Visa could be another viable option. Everyone else is allowed to stay visa-free for up to 90 days.
While the Scandinavian countries regularly rank near the top for important things like quality of life and gender equality, they’re also known for having pretty generous immigration policies. Obtaining a work visa will let you overstay the Schengen Agreement’s limit of 90 days during a 180-day span, while a more intriguing option lies north of the Arctic circle. The Svalbard archipelago in Norway is exempt from the usual Schengen limitations, which means you can live and work there visa-free indefinitely. Don’t forget to pack some heat though, as carrying a firearm is practically required to protect you from polar bears when venturing outside these remote settlements.
6. The Rest of the European Union
While the Schengen Agreement can make an extended stay in the rest of the EU rather difficult, some countries offer citizenship if your parents or grandparents were born there, so check with your preferred country just in case. Or, if you can prove you support yourself through freelance projects, art, writing or other creative work, Germany’s Artist Visa is worth considering.
On the surface, a few years abroad can seem pretty appealing, but be prepared for some frustration. Immigration processes are slow, visa and attorney fees stack up and to top it all off, US citizens are taxed on their foreign income. Don’t let this sway you though — American expats all over the world love their new homes. With a bit of planning you may find a country that better suits you, even if it’s just for a little while.
Which of these places would you want to stay in longer? Let us know in the comments, below.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
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