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Old 18-09-2011, 06:36   #1
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Length of Time Outside of US

Hi All
I'm preparing for an extended time away from the states. Several years travelling around the globe. How long can a US citizen remain away without returning? My father lived in Bimini for 14 years but had to return to the US each year for, I think it was 4 months, to keep his citizenship. Anyone know the rules?
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Old 18-09-2011, 06:43   #2
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My overarching goal is to live the remainder of my days overseas. Is it legally realistic? Do I need to apply for Visas at every port and what sort of limitations are there? I imagine each country is different. I know there are tax implications as well as foreign burden issues.
Thanks
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Old 18-09-2011, 06:50   #3
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Idealistically, I would like to be a global citizen but I'm sure that sort of thing isn't real for plenty of reasons, not least of which would be political protection. I'm not wanting to sound unpatriotic. I love my country but just want to be nomadic.
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Old 18-09-2011, 07:04   #4
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Re: Length of time outside of US

Perhaps there are different rules for naturalized citizens than for those who were born here. As a US citizen, born and raised in the states, I lived for 14 years in Canada with occasional trips home. Never had a problem. There are however, certain actions that are called expatriation acts that can cause you to lose your citizenship- like voting in a foreign country. However, you should look for an official answer on the appropriate government website. Never a good idea to count on advise on an internet forum, even one with members as knowledgeable as this one, for things that could cause irreversible problems with the government!
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Old 18-09-2011, 07:24   #5
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Thanks, KDH! I certainly am not taking this lightly. The consequences of stupidity in matters of citizenship wouldn't be pretty. And as you mention, "irreversible!" what a scary thought to find you had no "home." which brings me back to my question. I want to be smart about my travels and not loose my rights. Your advise is wise and I will ultimately visit the gov sites. But I don't know how or where to look? I'm hoping my post will help point me to the answers. Thanks again for your sage advise. :-)
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Old 18-09-2011, 07:40   #6
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Re: Length of time outside of US

Following up on KDH - see: Advice about Possible Loss of U.S. Citizenship and Dual Nationality
However, don't read it superficially - the italics in the first paragraph are very, very important - "if they perform certain specified acts voluntarily and with the intention to relinquish U.S. citizenship. . ."
- - So long as you do not intend to relinquish your US citizenship, it is yours for life whether "born or naturalized."
- - As to the OP's series of questions, you can live the whole rest of your life outside the USA and still remain a citizen - but with a few qualifications.
- - First among the qualifications most prominently is US taxation obligations. You cannot escape the need to report your total income and possible USA tax obligations unless you renounce your citizenship.
- - A subset of that tax obligation is the need to be "contactable" by taxing authorities. Basically, that means keeping a USA address somewhere with somebody who can view incoming mail and get the important stuff to you in a timely manner.
- - As an off subject quirk, it will interesting how the supposed or possible extinction of the U.S. Postal Service this winter might affect that situation since all official communications are sent through the US mail system.
- - But bottom line, so long as you maintain a physical address (by a relative or an outfit like St Brendan's Isle) and can and do respond to official communications, I cannot see any reasons you cannot reside outside the USA indefinitely. There are probable close to a million or more (WAG) folks doing it.
- - These days with internet access to banking and all sort of official and otherwise, information sources, it is very easy to reside outside the USA and still appear to be "in" the USA for most all practical official purposes. Even voting can be done via the internet access to absentee forms.
- - Living or visiting most all "foreign" countries requires a "visa." For a US citizen you normally can get a visitors (30 to 90 day) visa upon arrival in the foreign country avoiding having to get a "pre-approved visa."
- - For longer stays in a particular country it is normal that you must get either "renewals" of your visitor visa or get a "long term" or "resident alien" visa (similar to the USA "green card"). These are also limited in duration and revokable by the country if they don't like you for some reason. Some countries will allow a "permanent resident alien" status which is of much longer duration or indefinite duration so long as you don't get involved in any illegal activities.
- - So there are no insurmountable obstacles to living outside the USA for a US citizen. Just remember to be contactable and "keeping in touch" with any official requirements that are part of remaining a US citizen. There are huge amounts of US citizens retiring to live in Central America, the Caribbean and just about every other country in the world.
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Old 18-09-2011, 07:50   #7
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Re: Length of time outside of US

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There are however, certain actions that are called expatriation acts that can cause you to lose your citizenship- like voting in a foreign country.
That statute has been struck down by the Supreme Court in 1967. A naturalized citizen of the US can vote in another country's elections without losing US citizenship.
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Old 18-09-2011, 08:33   #8
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Re: Length of time outside of US

I have lived as an expat for a great deal of my life. The largest issue is indeed taxes. If you do not earn more than 80,000 dollars and are out of the US and territories for at least 330 days from the date you leave, you are good. DO NOT forget to renew your passport!
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Old 18-09-2011, 09:10   #9
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Re: Length of time outside of US

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I have lived as an expat for a great deal of my life. The largest issue is indeed taxes. If you do not earn more than 80,000 dollars and are out of the US and territories for at least 330 days from the date you leave, you are good. DO NOT forget to renew your passport!
It would be wise to file yearly with the IRS as their records will show that at one time you paid taxes and they will wonder what has happened! The IRS shares their information with your state of record.
Of coures if you don't pay any FICA taxes it will negitively effect any Social Security or Medicare benefits you woud expect to receive.
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Old 18-09-2011, 09:37   #10
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Re: Length of time outside of US

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. . . Of coures if you don't pay any FICA taxes it will negitively effect any Social Security or Medicare benefits you woud expect to receive.
Social Security retirement benefits are a very complicated subject. But basically you need 40 credits or about 10 years of work where you paid SS taxes to qualify for retirement payments.
- - After qualifying, the amount that you will receive is a very complicated calculation based on your earnings each year that you paid SS taxes. Basically they take an average of your earnings and if you worked more than 35 years, the highest 35 earning years, and then pay a percentage that varies from 25% to 45% of that calculation. A complicated explanation can be found at: Understanding the Social Security Benefit Calculation
- - So if you do qualify for SS retirement benefits before you head out into the world and live outside the USA, your SS retirement benefits will not be affected by what you do "outside" as they are frozen at your wages per year when you did pay SS taxes.
- - If you do not have enough "credits" to qualify then you don't lose those credits, they are just "held" until you again start working and paying SS taxes.
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Old 18-09-2011, 10:10   #11
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Re: Length of time outside of US

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Originally Posted by osirissail View Post
Social Security retirement benefits are a very complicated subject. But basically you need 40 credits or about 10 years of work where you paid SS taxes to qualify for retirement payments.
- - After qualifying, the amount that you will receive is a very complicated calculation based on your earnings each year that you paid SS taxes. Basically they take an average of your earnings and if you worked more than 35 years, the highest 35 earning years, and then pay a percentage that varies from 25% to 45% of that calculation. A complicated explanation can be found at: Understanding the Social Security Benefit Calculation
- - So if you do qualify for SS retirement benefits before you head out into the world and live outside the USA, your SS retirement benefits will not be affected by what you do "outside" as they are frozen at your wages per year when you did pay SS taxes.
- - If you do not have enough "credits" to qualify then you don't lose those credits, they are just "held" until you again start working and paying SS taxes.
This is all very true, I just wanted to alert younger people to consider all options.
I was able to start receibving Social Security and Medicare coverage while cruising in the Eastern Caribbean.
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Old 18-09-2011, 11:17   #12
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Wow! What wonderful and voluminous information. Advise that I would probably have had to pay some lawyer for! Thank you all for these responses.
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Old 18-09-2011, 16:24   #13
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Re: Length of time outside of US

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. . . I was able to start receibving Social Security and Medicare coverage while cruising in the Eastern Caribbean.
Yes, a very important fact, you do not need to actually be living in the USA to get your Social Security retirement checks. If you have put in the years and paid you will get your money. It is, of course, a great advantage to have your banking inside the USA and have the SS check automatically deposited in your bank account each month. Then you can use your ATM card to withdraw money anywhere in the world.
- - Medicare is a little different in that, IMHO, signing up for it when you become eligible is very important even though you may not be able to draw/use it until you get back to the USA.
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Old 18-09-2011, 16:43   #14
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Re: Length of Time Outside of US

As others have stated citizens don't have to return - don't lose citizenship.
But permanent residents do.
Maybe that is what you heard?
I was a perment resident and stayed out for years and had to start again.
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Old 18-09-2011, 16:53   #15
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Re: Length of time outside of US

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- - Medicare is a little different in that, IMHO, signing up for it when you become eligible is very important even though you may not be able to draw/use it until you get back to the USA.
You should enroll in Medicare when you reach the age of 65. I would advise that you review the four different parts of Medicare and sign up for those that will apply to you at any time. Failure to do so will result in a greater amount deducted from your Social Security check, if at a future time, you wish to have additional coverage. Tyoe D for drugs is a prime example. This is from my experience.

For those in the Caribbean, Medicare claims are honered in both Puerto Rico and the USVI.

On the island pf St. Thomas USVI, go to Crown Bay Marina and leave your dinghy at the dinghy dock and walk past the main building and proceed out the back gate . Turn left and walk up the hill and enter the shoping mall on the left. Next to a bank with a ATM is a official US Social Security Admin. office, to help in any questions or applications.
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