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Author: scottishgirlvet Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 744355  
Subject: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 9:51 AM
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Hiya.

I have been a member of the MotleyFool community since mid-October. Learned much from many;and am grateful to many, many of whom I cannot name.

Please allow me to place my query:

Emmigration as a <quicker?> means of RE?


Wee bit of background: Veterinarians in the US have an average salary of 80,000 USD. In Scotland, less than a quarter of that (not debating the morality of it, just noting)though expenses on some things are most certainly less.

My needs are few, my wants, even less. I believe I could contribute to my profession there (not taking away jobs from those qualified there), because in reading JAVMA (Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association) there seems a dearth of vets to fill the situations offered. Too, I am moral, quiet, and pay my taxes.

Ideas, comments? Please feel at ease in your response(s)?

'Exit, pursued by a bear.' Stage direction in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale (1611).

Thank you,
sgv

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Author: bosslady52 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148809 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 9:54 AM
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Guess part of it would depend on what part of the country you would relocate to...rural? Urban? Join a practice or set up your own? I'm sure you'd be a welcome addition wherever you decided to "land"!

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Author: telegraph Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148822 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 10:51 AM
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A lot depends upon your situation.....

If you become a UK citizen, you lose access to US benefits you may have earned..Medicare, SS, unless you have dual citizenship now...

You may or may not qualify for UK health care...depends how many years of employment you need to qualify...

Would you have the same possiblities for a carerr? ie, taking care of personal pets, or taking care of the flocks of sheep in Scotland? or chasing mad cow epidemics?

Overall, my impression of housing expenses (high), amenities (typically lower standard of living - smaller houses, smaller cars, more spent on transportation, relatively higher food costs) need to be considered.

Maybe you'd do better by looking at reducing expenses, going to part time work in early retirement, moving to different part of US for lower expenses, etc.

Unless you have a burning desire to move to Scotland because you want to be in Scotland (with its dreary dreary weather), you might accomplish a change of scenery with a lot less hassle by moving.

Also, how long would it take you to re-establish your practice once you moved? could you bridge the income gap?

t.

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Author: intercst Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148823 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 10:56 AM
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telegraph writes,

Unless you have a burning desire to move to Scotland because you want to be in Scotland (with its dreary dreary weather), you might accomplish a change of scenery with a lot less hassle by moving.


You've got it backwards.

The writer lives in Scotland and is wondering what a veternarian has to do to legally move to the US and get a work permit.

intercst

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Author: arrete Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148824 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 10:57 AM
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I actually know a fair number of vets because I do wildlife rehab. I suggest trying to get to know some US vets. A lot of small practices are being gobbled up by bigger groups, and it isn't always pretty from the vets point of view. More bottom line oriented. I live near DC, so it might be a suburbs phenomena. Not much call for checking out pregnant cows here.

I find vets to generally be a quirky bunch (no disrespect meant - FIREd people are really quirky). They often aren't money-savvy which can get them into trouble when they work for one of the bigger outfits. Much like doctors getting sucked into HMOs and expected to see umpteen patients a day.

That said, I know there are vet offices that would be fun to work at, you just have to find the right one.

Health care is tricky. A lot of vets work part-time, and I don't know what kind of benefits they get. Not the sort of thing you ask when you take your cat in for a check up. I'm hanging out with a vet (and 50 other people) this afternoon. If I think of it and she isn't mobbed, I'll ask a couple of questions.

Can't wait for Art to chime in on this one.

arrete

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Author: scottishgirlvet Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148833 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 11:24 AM
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Smashing! So many replies, and extremely helpful, too. Cheers, thanks!

Yes, I am decidedly quirky--I love fencing (epee), black and white photography, Sealyham terriers, horseback riding, and growing fresh veg in the glasshouse (soil is poor, and growing season short).

As for money--when you do not have much, you creatively accommodate. If I am conscious that I would be relocating to an environment where I might be tempted with more advertising, and resist succumbing to the temptation, I could reach RE goals earlier than working grindingly hard for low pay.

All of what telegraph writes is true. The standard of living in Scotland is much below what many of you in the US enjoy. The weather IS terrible. In rural areas, there are few goods and services. I re-read my original post, and I agree it was confusing as to where I am located. I do not own my own practice--I am too newly-minted a vet, young, and have not the wherewithal, anyway.

I am a mixed animal veterinarian. Sheep are my preferred species, because I grew up on a sheep farm, but short of Montana, I think there is little call for veterinary care for them. Cows are okay, but I am 4'10 and seven stone (98 pounds), so if I never worked on another, I would not miss it. Horses and small animals would be the species with which I'd be more comfortable. Sub-urban location preferred.

I originally posted thinking that given that I have few needs and wants, and the opportunities for income that exist there, I could work there and then return to Scotland, retired early.

I am not the sort who would take without giving; I would pay taxes; contribute to my profession; fill a need, since there appear to be fewer vets than situations; and, <hopefully?> be an asset generally.

Best regards to all,
Briony

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Author: 1HappyFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148839 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 11:56 AM
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I am a mixed animal veterinarian. Sheep are my preferred species, because I grew up on a sheep farm, but short of Montana, I think there is little call for veterinary care for them. Cows are okay, but I am 4'10 and seven stone (98 pounds), so if I never worked on another, I would not miss it. Horses and small animals would be the species with which I'd be more comfortable. Sub-urban location preferred.

Sheep are not uncommon in rural Michigan and Virginia. I'm sure there are other areas, but you would be mixed in with cattle, horses, llamas, emus, ostriches and a host of other animals in both of these places.

I am not the sort who would take without giving; I would pay taxes; contribute to my profession; fill a need, since there appear to be fewer vets than situations; and, <hopefully?> be an asset generally.

Most of us don't worry much about foreign professionals seriously impacting our job market or leaching off our society. We are a nation of immigrants and we still welcome those who will be productive and have respect for the price that we and our ancestors paid for what we have to offer.

1HF



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Author: FoolMeOnce Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148841 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 12:07 PM
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intercst writes:

You've got it backwards.

Rats! Man, don't stop him when he's on a roll. If he ever starts fully reading and understanding posts before he goes into one of his diatribes, the ole BS detector will be practically useless. Wonder how much it would fetch on eBay?

FMO


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Author: peplow Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148844 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 12:17 PM
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80,000 USD. In Scotland, less than a quarter of that .................


It will as others have said depend on WHERE you emmigrated to. There are places in the US where you might find it hard save up for RE earning $80K, and there are places where you'd make less but still may be better able to save up for ER.

The US is an amazingly big country compared to the UK, but if you do your homework, you are bound to find somewhere that will suit you.



Due dilligence is the key.




Pete

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Author: 1HappyFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148845 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 12:29 PM
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Where are my manners? If you would like, I can make inquiries in my small corner of Michigan. My DW knows one Vet and my father routinely has his animals checked by another. Just respond by checking "E-Mail this Reply to the Author" and unchecking "Post this Reply to the Boards" when/if you post a reply to take it offline.

Others might be able to help if you aren't interested in Michigan, but I imagine you would find much to like about this area.

1HF


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Author: fleg9bo Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148864 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 2:05 PM
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I am a mixed animal veterinarian. Sheep are my preferred species.

One of my favorite photos was taken from the middle of a sheep pasture halfway up the steep slope of some dramatic mountains in western Skye. Perhaps it was your family farm. Please, do come. We don't have nearly enough people named Briony with Scottish accents over here.

Can you tell if yours (to an American ear) is particularly heavy? People in Edinburgh are easy to understand but I've spoken to folks in Oban, and seen Glaswegians on the telly, who were completely unintelligible.

Anyway, we've got lots of mixed animals in Oregon--llamas and alpacas are a niche market. For sheep you might want to take a look at Idaho, where many Basques and their descendants have set up shop. And there's always Canada.

Good luck.

--fleg

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Author: nufcfan Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148883 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 2:59 PM
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Hey Briony
Not sure I can help you with your chosen field of employment.
But if you want to know more about the differences in life on both sides of the pond, then I can help, having emmigrated from small town Northumberland UK to Minnesota US about 6 years ago.
Let me know if I can help.

Mark << thinks Minnesota winters make Scottish winters look like summer!

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Author: Aranknitter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148885 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 3:01 PM
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Hello,

I'm an expat Scot, from Pitlochry. I moved over here 5 years ago.

To work over here, you need one of the work visas, which can eventually be replaced by a green card. I am guessing that an intra-company transfer (that is, a transfer from the UK branch of a multinational company to the US branch...) is not possible, so the L visa category is out. So, that leaves the H visa category. That means that to be able to work/live over here, your occupation needs to be one of those listed in the H visa category specifications, which you should be able to find by searching the BCIS website. I don't know all of the occupations off the top of my head - for example, I know computer programmer is on the list, and I know marine biologist is not, but I don't recall the exhaustive list. (The occupations listed are ones that the USA deems that they need - occupations with shortages).

If veterinarian is listed in the H category, you are in luck. In that case, all you need is to apply to a US veterinary firm for a job, and when you get a job there, the US firm can then sponsor you for an H working visa. Please note - you NEED a US employer to sponsor you. You cannot sponsor yourself, so you cannot come over and set up your own practice...

The H visa, like all other working visas, is valid for 6 years. That is why you need the green card - so you can stay longer than 6 years. Also so that you can take a pension from the SS system.... important, since you will no longer be making contributions to the UK pension system. Only US citizens and LPRs (Lawful Permanent Resident - in other words, a green card holder) can get an SS pension.

The number of H visas are capped each year, currently the cap stands at 65,000 visas. If your employer applies for one for you, and they have reached their limit for the year, you will be held over till next year. That's what happened to me, by the way :) I waited 1 year for my own H visa.

If you do get an H visa and come to work over here, try and make sure your employer will sponsor you for the work-based green card as soon as you arrive. Currently work-based green cards are taking 3 to 4 years to process!!! When I moved over here, I was fortunate in that my husband was actually a US citizen and so, I applied for an H visa based on my job and was able to follow him here quite soon. Then when here, I applied for the marriage-based green card which takes 1 t 2 years to process. However, (unless you meet and marry a US citizen who falls in love with the Scots accent!!!!!) you'll need to apply for the work-based green card - and, you'll need to do it SOON as waiting-times are lengthening year-on-year and you don't want to be faced with a wait-time that has grown longer than the time that you are allowed on a work visa. If your work visa expired before the green card came through, you would have to leave the country.

Be aware of one thing as you plan to retire to Scotland.... US citizens and LPRs are subject to US tax *any*where that they live, in the world. The US is the only Western nation who does this - taxes their citizens and LPRs even when they live abroad, I mean. Fortunately, since Scotland has a higher tax rate than the US, the tax credit you will be able to claim for having paid Scottish taxes will be higher than the US tax you are liable for... meaning you won't pay the US tax.

The USBCIS website is a good place to start. Very comprehensive. www.bcis.gov, I think...

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Author: arrete Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148904 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 4:09 PM
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Talked to the vet (briefly). She said there are lots of jobs for vets. She's a relief vet which means she fills slots where other vets are on vacation, or slots waiting for full timers. She does her own health care, but didn't seem to think it was a big deal.

So - she said there was a lot of call for vets in all parts of the country and that there were still plenty of smaller practices. She didn't seem to think that the bigger firms were a problem, though others I've talked to have switched because they didn't enjoy working for the bigger groups.

And that's all I know.

arrete

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Author: sykesix Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148912 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 4:34 PM
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I am a mixed animal veterinarian. Sheep are my preferred species, because I grew up on a sheep farm, but short of Montana, I think there is little call for veterinary care for them.

I think they raise sheep in pretty much every state, most of the western states anyway.

But Montana might not be a bad choice. The ecomony is always bad there for some reason, but its beautiful. Its the playground of the rich and famous. I've know a few economic refugees from Montana and they all want to go back some day.

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Author: ariechert Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148920 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 5:22 PM
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Can't wait for Art to chime in on this one.

arrete


She can do an internship at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. It probably pays about ~ $30,000/year. They usually last about 3 years. I think any foreign Vet has to do a residency and take a test to practice in the United States. Here's the website if a person was motivated. http://www.vet.utk.edu/ They have residency programs in Large Animal, Small Animal, surgery, Zoo Medicine, Internal Medicine, Oncology, etc. I imagine they work your butt off, but most Residents seem to enjoy it. I met people at the Vet School from Japan (a LOT!), Germany, France, Netherlands, Egypt, India, Mexico, etc., etc. Good luck! - Art

http://www.vet.utk.edu/

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Author: Aranknitter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148956 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 11:15 PM
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So - she said there was a lot of call for vets in all parts of the country and that there were still plenty of smaller practices. She didn't seem to think that the bigger firms were a problem, though others I've talked to have switched because they didn't enjoy working for the bigger groups.

The only problem with a small firm is that they may not be able to afford to sponsor the OP for a work-based green card. To the OP: make sure any firm you apply to would be willing/able to sponsor you for a GC. A work-based GC is expensive - can cost a company 12K-18K currently. A very small practice, for example a two-partner practice, may not be able to raise the cash for the GC even though they should be able to afford the H visa (that's only 1K-ish)

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Author: wakingdreamer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148959 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 11:23 PM
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If I am conscious that I would be relocating to an environment where I might be tempted with more advertising, and resist succumbing to the temptation, I could reach RE goals earlier than working grindingly hard for low pay.

Don't bring your TV and you'll be fine. There's nothing worth watching here anyway.

Sheep are my preferred species, because I grew up on a sheep farm, but short of Montana, I think there is little call for veterinary care for them.

Not at all!! Girl, you are headed for the Northern California coast!

[gets a grip]

The northern half of California grows a lot of sheep because the hills are so steep nothing else can graze on them. I grew up herding sheep on my grandfather's ranch in the summers -- we kids were somewhat less use than the dogs. :) It is the most beautiful country I have ever seen -- redwoods, vineyards, gorgeous weather.

I can't promise there's work there, of course. But certainly there are sheep. Also cattle, goats, pigs, llamas, and bison -- a significant number of second-career people up there raise exotic animals so they can live in the back country. They use peacocks as burglar alarms. There are a lot of horses.

I would love to be able to live up there, but have no way to earn a living. You could live in a town, or out in the backcountry, whichever you'd rather. Check it out. It's truly wonderful.

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Author: Aranknitter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148962 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 11:55 PM
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I would love to be able to live up there, but have no way to earn a living. You could live in a town, or out in the backcountry, whichever you'd rather. Check it out. It's truly wonderful.

Including the taxes. sgv, take it from an auld Scot who worked and paid taxes in Scotland for 16 years before moving to the US, and who had the option of relocating to NC, CA or Chicago. I investigated each place on the company dime, including visits to banks, realtors, local govt offices, etc. The CA tax rates will make you faint by comparison with Scotland.

And on that subject, also avoid Massachusetts. Their tax is not as high as Scotland's granted, but the unofficial state motto is "Our taxes are higher than Sweden's". :)


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Author: Aranknitter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 148963 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/8/2004 11:57 PM
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And on that subject, also avoid Massachusetts. Their tax is not as high as Scotland's granted, but the unofficial state motto is "Our taxes are higher than Sweden's". :)

Correction. MA tax rates are possibly as high as Scotland's now!

:)

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Author: FogChicken Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149039 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 11:10 AM
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I'm a bit late to this thread as I don't normally post here (found it via a Last 10 Posts query). However, as an expatriate from a smaller country who has lived in the USA for about 10 years, I think I have a good sense of the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach. Aranknitter has covered the visa issues very nicely already so I'll focus on lifestyle concerns.

Advantages
- You will indeed earn more and be able to save more, even with higher living expenses. The exchange rate may also work in your favor on your return.
- Living in another country is a tremendously enriching experience. Expect to learn a lot about the world and also about your relationship with your own country (you'd be surprised at the perspective you gain).
- You will be much more 'in the middle of everything' living in the USA. This can be a shock in some ways but definitely has its advantages as well.

Disadvantages
- There's a 'culture shock' period of adjustment, more or less severe depending on your personality. It didn't hit me too hard but some people have trouble with it.
- More insidiously, if you stay for a long time you can expect a similar culture shock on your return. You'll grow accustomed to certain things about life in the USA, and may also idealize your home country to some degree. On your return you'll have to reacquaint yourself with the reality, which may also have changed since you left.
- The longer you stay, the more likely you are to remain permanently. You may, for example, end up marrying an American as I did. I certainly have no regrets on this score but I include it in this column since people often don't anticipate it, and it can throw your financial planning for a loop if you're not careful. I'm not committed to remaining permanently just yet but that option is definitely on the table now, which wasn't true when I first arrived.


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Author: WeeBeastie Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149140 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 4:03 PM
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Emmigration as a <quicker?> means of RE?

Hi Briony,

I live in the US - I left Scotland 7 years ago. I am retiring back to Scotland in 4 or 5 years at the age of 37 or 38. However, this was not planned seven years ago, I just came up with it about 3 months ago when I realized my DH would move back if retired (he's also Scottish, we're out here on seperate visas).

To be honest, the main reason we will be able to RE back, isn't that we earn more money here (I earn less, DH earns more so we're about even), it's that the "keeping up with the Jones's" mentality is less here than there. I know - unbelievable given that the US is the biggest consumer in the world. However, I think this depends very much on where you live.

The other reason I can retire earlier is that I don't have to pay for healthcare - this was the biggest expense in my post FIRE calculations and also the largest, and scariest, variable. There are always horror stories about the British healthcare system (Arranknitter hates it), but I have little bad to say about it and my family and friends still there are still getting the care they need. I think the quality of the NHS depends on where you live.

There will be things that really surprise you when you live here. The cost of living was a lot more than I expected. It's a myth that everything costs less here (at least in the Bay Area). Groceries and meals out cost me more here than in the UK. Other than petrol, I can't think of much that is cheaper here at all. My visitors are usually stunned. Another big surprise was taxes - I pay just as much tax here as I would in Scotland. That's probably living in CA as we have very high state income taxes. When I moved here and asked what the taxes were, everyone was telling me "about 28%". Yeah right. For Federal. Then there is state, FICA, OASDI, CSDI and a couple of other random items that just showed up in my pay slip. I'm also married without kids which carries a penalty tax-wise.

Someone earlier in the thread said that you would pay higher taxes when you went back to Scotland: not necessarily true. Because individuals, not married couples, are taxed in the UK, we will pay virtually no UK tax if I manage our investments properly. One gets £7,000 per annum of capital gains tax free. The cost basis is also adjusted for inflation (unlike the US) making the £7,000 exemption much lower than one's proceeds need be. Also the first £4,500 of income is tax free. These exemptions alone mean that DH and I can withdraw at least £23,000 per annum without paying taxes. That is plenty.

The downside with this planning is the US tax on long-term residents (we will not be citizens). I need to be very careful on this or I will be stuck paying extremely punative taxes for 10 full years after leaving the US (despite having filed complete returns during my residency). I am a Chartered Accountant in Britain and a CPA here, and I will be using an international accounting firm to ensure that everything is processed correctly. Arranknitter's comment on not having to pay US tax because of paying UK tax doesn't apply. The taxes for aliens often do not allow for the right of offset (and anyhow, I won't have much taxable in the UK).

Getting a visa is going to be your major difficulty. With most vet practices being small, I don't see many wishing to deal with the hassles of the INS. And believe me, those hassles are extreme these days. We have been here for 7 years and still do not have a greencard. My friends joke that the INS are going to boot me out but the IRS will be at the airport refusing to let me leave because "I will be doing so for tax evasion purposes" (automatic assumption if you have net assets over $599K or income over $120K; for married couples these limits are not hard to reach). He he he - I can just envision the INS agent duking it out with the IRS agent at the airport - I wonder who'll win ;)

I don't know where I would recommend going about getting a visa. I worked for an international firm and got transferred. Once here, I found another job where they were willing to sponsor an H visa, but I'm not certain I could have done that from Scotland. My DH is a bio-physicist and came out on a J (educational) visa. He then got an H after a few years.

Good luck! I hope I didn't sound discouraging - it's a great idea, it's just the practicalities may be a little hard to sort out.


USImmigrantRetiringBacktoScotlandBeastie




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Author: WeeBeastie Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149145 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 4:12 PM
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We don't have nearly enough people named Briony with Scottish accents over here.

He he he. The thing is, if she does come, she will get hit on constantly! I am married, but if I weren't.......oooh the things my accent could do for me.

People in Edinburgh are easy to understand but I've spoken to folks in Oban, and seen Glaswegians on the telly, who were completely unintelligible.

LOL - you're not the only one. I was working in the Shetland Isles once and the taxi driver had to pick me up at the airport, an hour away from the oil terminal. I don't think I understood a single word he said the entire journey. Aberdeen often wasn't much better. I'm from Edinburgh but I've definitely had to soften my accent since being here - especially the Rs. It is still very much a Scottish accent.


AccentedBeastie




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Author: WeeBeastie Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149158 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 4:28 PM
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The standard of living in Scotland is much below what many of you in the US enjoy.

This is true for most of the US, but not all. Most of my college friends have the same standard of living as I have here, but the cost of living in the Bay Area is probably equal to that of central belt Scotland. In the rest of the US houses are much larger and cheaper as is petrol, real estate taxes etc. If ER is your goal, choose where you live carefully.

The weather IS terrible.

But you know what? When you're retired you can take off at a moment's notice and get some sun. Cypress/Tenerife/Algarve flight plus accommodation £89.

The weather in Scotland is the reason we moved here. But it's different when you're going to work in heels and a suit with the rain driving under your umbrella than when you're retired and can curl up under the covers with the rain hammering on the window. Aaaahhhhhh.

Our thing is to get a semi-rural house with a large conservatory overlooking hills dotted with sheep. Scottish weather is incredibly variable and I think watching it will be fabulous with my leisurely morning tea.

The house also has to be walking distance to a pub. :)


MissThePubBeastie

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Author: WeeBeastie Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149162 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 4:35 PM
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SGV,
Art mentioned the vet school in his post. I know you probably don't want to go down the residency road if you've already put in your time, but you may wish to consider it. Educational institutions have J1 visas which are far easier to get than Hs. It's a lot easier to get an H once you're here. You can't apply for a greencard while you're on a J, but the clock (6 year time limit on non-resident visas) doesn't start ticking until you get an H.

From my experience, a J1 will be your best option.


VisalessBeastie.

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Author: ariechert Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149167 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 4:43 PM
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SGV,
Art mentioned the vet school in his post. I know you probably don't want to go down the residency road if you've already put in your time, but you may wish to consider it. Educational institutions have J1 visas which are far easier to get than Hs. It's a lot easier to get an H once you're here. You can't apply for a greencard while you're on a J, but the clock (6 year time limit on non-resident visas) doesn't start ticking until you get an H.

From my experience, a J1 will be your best option.


VisalessBeastie


I had friends from all over the world when I worked at the Vet School, including India, China, Africa, Japan, Germany, France, Russia, Iraq, England, several countries in South America, and Ireland. The African Guys were a HOOT! I learned to cook different foods from a lot of different countries from them. - Art

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Author: Hyperborea Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149180 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 5:18 PM
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Only US citizens and LPRs (Lawful Permanent Resident - in other words, a green card holder) can get an SS pension.

You and telegraph both got this wrong. There is no requirement for US citizenship or permanent residence to get a SS pension. There are requirements on quarters of contribution directly or in combination with contributions to other coutnries that are counted through treaty arrangements. There are a few restrictions on where you can live and still collect and those restrictions vary by citizenship.

The SS treaties are available on line at:
http://www.ssa.gov/international/index.html

US citizens and LPRs are subject to US tax *any*where that they live, in the world. The US is the only Western nation who does this - taxes their citizens and LPRs even when they live abroad

Not the only one but one of the very few that does this. It is my understanding that Finland also taxes based on citizenship.

Hyperborea

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Author: Hyperborea Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149183 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 5:31 PM
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Someone earlier in the thread said that you would pay higher taxes when you went back to Scotland: not necessarily true. Because individuals, not married couples, are taxed in the UK, we will pay virtually no UK tax if I manage our investments properly.

This is an important issue when moving countries. Examine the tax laws carefully to ensure that you set up your financial affairs so that they work to your best advantage under the different tax system. You may need to do this before you take up residence in the other country. It can also sometimes turn out that you can make some great windfalls due to the discontinuities in the different tax systems - some systems tax gains at different times or different ways and it can be possible to pay no tax at all by timing things correctly.

We have been here for 7 years and still do not have a greencard. My friends joke that the INS are going to boot me out but the IRS will be at the airport refusing to let me leave because "I will be doing so for tax evasion purposes" (automatic assumption if you have net assets over $599K or income over $120K; for married couples these limits are not hard to reach). He he he - I can just envision the INS agent duking it out with the IRS agent at the airport - I wonder who'll win ;)

Actually, the expatriation tax laws don't apply unless you are a US citizen or have held a green card for 8 of the last 15 calendar years (i.e. if you got your green card on Dec 31st of 2000 then 2000 would count as 1 of the 8 years). You can see the IRS page on the expat tax laws at: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=97245,00.html

Hyperborea

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Author: fleg9bo Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149195 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 5:43 PM
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Hyperborea:
Actually, the expatriation tax laws don't apply unless you are a US citizen or have held a green card for 8 of the last 15 calendar years

From the IRS website that you linked to:

>>>>
If you are a former long-term resident, you are eligible to request a ruling if you are in one of the following categories:

You become (within a reasonable period after your expatriation) a resident fully liable to income tax in one of the following countries:
1. The country in which you were born
2. The country where your spouse was born

3. The country where either of your parents was born
4. You were present in the United States for no more than 30 days during each year of the 10-year period prior to expatriation
5. You ceased to be a long-term resident before reaching age 18 1/2
>>>>

So if you're going "home" you can request an exemption. I wonder if such exemptions are routinely granted or if they give people who move back to their countries of origin a hard time.

--fleg


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Author: Hyperborea Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149199 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 5:54 PM
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Hyperborea:
Actually, the expatriation tax laws don't apply unless you are a US citizen or have held a green card for 8 of the last 15 calendar years
--------

fleg-bo:
From the IRS website that you linked to:

>>>>
If you are a former long-term resident, you are eligible to request a ruling if you are in one of the following categories:

You become (within a reasonable period after your expatriation) a resident fully liable to income tax in one of the following countries:
1. The country in which you were born
2. The country where your spouse was born
3. The country where either of your parents was born
>>>>

So if you're going "home" you can request an exemption. I wonder if such exemptions are routinely granted or if they give people who move back to their countries of origin a hard time.


I'm not fully sure of that. I have some advice that suggests that your request for an exemption is in the form of requesting a private letter ruling from the IRS at somewhere around $10K+ for lawyer and filing fees. My own plans will have me turning in my green card before I fall under the expatriation tax. (Note: that this statement is not meant in any way to get tngirl's panties in a twist - that is if she can find them)

I have plans to take up tax residence in a much cheaper tax locale that has a very favourable tax treaty with the US and then withdraw my IRA out with 0% tax on either end and only pay the 10% early withdrawal penalty (I'll only be in my mid-40's).

Hyperborea

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Author: WeeBeastie Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149205 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 6:11 PM
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Actually, the expatriation tax laws don't apply unless you are a US citizen or have held a green card for 8 of the last 15 calendar years (i.e. if you got your green card on Dec 31st of 2000 then 2000 would count as 1 of the 8 years). You can see the IRS page on the expat tax laws

Thanks for the good news but I still find the issue is confusing. The key word is "permanent". From IRS publication 519: You are a long-term resident if you were a lawful permanent resident of the United States in at least 8 of the last 15 tax years ending with the year your residency ends. In determining if you meet the 8 year requirement, do not count any year that you are treated as a resident of a foreign country under a tax treaty and do not waive treaty benefits

I have always been a lawful resident here. I have been resident for tax purposes in the US for 7 years and have not been a resident of a foreign country for tax purposes. I will likely have a greencard in the next five years as I started the process 4 years ago. Then again with the current rate of processing it will be 11 years!

Do you think I'm off the hook on the "permanent" technicality, even though I will have perm status when I leave? If so, I will be so relieved. I stumbled across the expatriation tax whilst looking for something else last week and was mighty pee'd off that I might have to revisit my goal date.

Thanks for your help Hyperborea


ExpatriatingBeastie

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Author: WeeBeastie Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149211 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 6:45 PM
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You become (within a reasonable period after your expatriation) a resident fully liable to income tax in one of the following countries:
1. The country in which you were born
2. The country where your spouse was born
3. The country where either of your parents was born


I noticed that. Both sets of parents were born in Britain too, so you'd think my case would be a slam dunk. But.....

So if you're going "home" you can request an exemption. I wonder if such exemptions are routinely granted or if they give people who move back to their countries of origin a hard time.

Because you "can request a ruling", it seems to me that I cannot assume that I will be exempt from expatriation taxes. All it means is I can request that they determine I haven't left the country to evade taxes. I'd love to hear the stories of anyone who has done this.

Somehow the fact I "can request a ruling" doesn't give the warm and fuzzies. I need to be very careful in selling my house, exercising ISOs, realizing capital gains and all transactions in the two years prior to departure. The last thing I want is to have all that taxed at 30%. I would need to <gasp> keep working <sob, sob, sob>


NervousBeastie

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Author: Hyperborea Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149213 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 6:51 PM
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Do you think I'm off the hook on the "permanent" technicality, even though I will have perm status when I leave? If so, I will be so relieved. I stumbled across the expatriation tax whilst looking for something else last week and was mighty pee'd off that I might have to revisit my goal date.

It's not a technicality. A lawful permanent resident is what people commonly refer to as a "green card holder". You can escape US taxation without worrying.

Hyperborea

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Author: WeeBeastie Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149214 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 7:00 PM
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I'm not fully sure of that. I have some advice that suggests that your request for an exemption is in the form of requesting a private letter ruling from the IRS at somewhere around $10K+ for lawyer and filing fees. My own plans will have me turning in my green card before I fall under the expatriation tax

Ouchie on the $10K tax attorney fee (but somehow I'm not surprised). And as I mentioned in an earlier post, I would never rely on a favourable ruling anyhow, mainly because it's not the IRS's interests to issue one.

If turning in the greencard makes the tax non-applicable, despite my lengthy residency, then I will sleep a lot easier.

The tax treaty with the UK is quite favourable. Actually, it was in determining how pensions would be taxed that had me stumble across the expatriation tax. The treaty with the UK is 0% on pension payments. For some reason I had thought capital gains had recently been moved to 0 also, but when I recently reviewed the treaty it said 30%. Not a big deal as I expect things to change before I go back, but it's best to plan where I can.

TaxStrategizingBeastie.

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Author: Hyperborea Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149221 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 7:16 PM
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Hyperborea:
I'm not fully sure of that. I have some advice that suggests that your request for an exemption is in the form of requesting a private letter ruling from the IRS at somewhere around $10K+ for lawyer and filing fees. My own plans will have me turning in my green card before I fall under the expatriation tax
--------

Wee|Worried|TaxStrategizingBeastie:
Ouchie on the $10K tax attorney fee (but somehow I'm not surprised). And as I mentioned in an earlier post, I would never rely on a favourable ruling anyhow, mainly because it's not the IRS's interests to issue one.

If turning in the greencard makes the tax non-applicable, despite my lengthy residency, then I will sleep a lot easier.


What matters is ending your "legal permanent residence" before you have been one for 8 of the last 15 calendar years. That could mean only slightly more than 6 years of duration depending on the start and end dates. If you are an LPR for 8 of the last 15 years then you fall under the expat tax rules but since you will be returning to your home country you are able to request a ruling. As you state it isn't necessarily guaranteed.

The tax treaty with the UK is quite favourable. Actually, it was in determining how pensions would be taxed that had me stumble across the expatriation tax. The treaty with the UK is 0% on pension payments. For some reason I had thought capital gains had recently been moved to 0 also, but when I recently reviewed the treaty it said 30%. Not a big deal as I expect things to change before I go back, but it's best to plan where I can.

Yes, make plans in advance and it could save you a lot of money. The summaries of the treaties are available from the INS at: http://www.irs.gov/app/scripts/redirectPDF.jsp?dest=/pub/irs-pdf/p901.pdf and the full legalese versions at: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/corporations/article/0,,id=96739,00.html

How does Britain tax capital gains? With a 0% US withholding and tax rate then it may make sense to take the gains from stocks in Britain after you return. How about losses? It may make sense to take them in the US and then apply them to possible future taxes (SS, IRA withdrawals, etc.). It probably makes sense to sell the house before becoming a British tax resident again too since there is the US $500K exemption (if you qualify). You should figure out when you will be considered a British tax resident. What is the triggering event(s) and at what date do you then become a tax resident.

What about becoming eligible for British socialized medicine? Will you need some temporary coverage while waiting?

Hyperborea

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Author: RonBass Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149224 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 7:33 PM
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You can't apply for a greencard while you're on a J

That's only true if you are subject to the Foreign Residence Requirement. I went directly from a J-1 visa to a green card, back in the late '70s, and the rules don't appear to have changed since then.

According to the rules at <http://uscis.gov/graphics/howdoi/exchvisit.htm>,

Who is Subject to the Foreign Residence Requirement?
You are subject to the foreign residence requirement, if you are a (J-1 visa status) participant in the Exchange Vistor Program and:

· Any part of your participation in the exchange program was paid for, directly or indirectly, by your government or the United States Government. Your program sponsor should have noted on your IAP-66 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status) if your program was paid for directly or indirectly by your government or the United States Government. You can also discuss this issue with officials from the Bureau of Consular Affairs.


· You are from a country which has been designated by Bureau of Consular Affairs as requiring your skills (please see the Exchange Visitor Skill List for more information); or


· You arrived in the United States on or after January 10, 1977 to obtain graduate medical education or training.

If you fall into one of the above categories, your dependent spouse and child are also subject to the foreign residence requirement.



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Author: WeeBeastie Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149234 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 8:00 PM
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How does Britain tax capital gains? With a 0% US withholding and tax rate then it may make sense to take the gains from stocks in Britain after you return. How about losses?

There is an annual capital gains tax exemption in Britain of #7,900 ($14,220) per person per annum. The cost of the asset is adjusted for inflation which lowers the potential gain. With no "married" filing status there, this means that we can withdraw quite a chunk between us without paying CGT. Losses are offset against gains. Net gains above #7900 are taxed at normal income tax rates (10%, 22% and 40%). I won't be anywhere near the 40% rate unless something goes very wrong (or rather, very well!). The one thing that I will find really hard to plan for will be ISOs. Obviously it is in my best interests to exercise and hold to avoid US income tax and instead have a long-term CG. However, AMT makes this incredibly hard to plan for carefully. Also, portfolio concentration would be a considerable risk factor. I need to do some more sums but with FIRE still being five years away, there are too many variables to make detailed planning worthwhile.

It probably makes sense to sell the house before becoming a British tax resident again too since there is the US $500K exemption (if you qualify).

I would definitely sell the house before moving back. I need to know how much it would sell for before pulling the FIRE plug first of all. From a tax perspective, I would be nervous about the US taxes only as all gains on one's primary residence, regardless of amount, are exempt from UK capital gains.

You should figure out when you will be considered a British tax resident. What is the triggering event(s) and at what date do you then become a tax resident.

I will become resident in the UK for tax purposes in the first tax year I spend 180 days in the country. The tax year there is April 5 - April 4, so it's a little different from here. I will likely move back at the beginning of a year to avoid being resident in both countries during overlapping periods. I need to look into this more though.

What about becoming eligible for British socialized medicine? Will you need some temporary coverage while waiting?

As a British citizen, I am entitled to healthcare immediately. However, I may look into purchasing BUPA policy. I will determine how much this would cost nearer the time. BUPA (the main private insurer in UK) policies cost a lot less than health insurance here.

So what is your home country and where have you chosen as your RE destination?


TaxPlanningBeastie


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Author: Hyperborea Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149243 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 8:52 PM
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TaxPlanningBeastie

So what is your home country and where have you chosen as your RE destination?


I'm a Canadian with Scottish citizenship (ok British and hence EU) and a Japanese wife. (So, obviously I have no interest in MunkeeNutz's attempts to pander out 1HF) Our plans are for the first n years of retirement to be spent as perpetual travellers. Not constantly in motion but perhaps 4 months in one place and then 6 somewhere else. Not the "if it's Tuesday it must be Milan" type travel. Where do we want to stop when we grow tired of the travel? That we don't know yet though the two likeliest places are in Japan or in Canada near the immediate family. I have a large amount of family in Scotland but we aren't really close so that isn't too likely.

I'm seriously considering taking Thai tax residence (pretty easy to do) for the first year after I cease to be a US tax resident. That would provide us with a treaty based tax rate of 0% in the US on withdrawals from our IRAs. The Thai tax rate is 0% on gains not brought into the country. That would leave us paying only the 10% early withdrawal penalty when we drain all the funds out of the IRAs (including 401k rollovers).

There are a few other little discontinuities in the tax laws to take advantage of and one that you might want to consider since British tax law is based on the individual (similar to Canada) rather than the filing jointly system. Make sure that you evenly divide your assets between you and your husband before you cease to be US tax residents. That way once you do become a British tax resident again the realized gains/interest income/etc. will be equal and that should minimize your taxes.

Another interesting one that may not apply is that Canada has a deemed acquisition and deemed disposition system. I'm unsure whether Britain does or not. When you leave you are deemed to have disposed of assets and must pay tax on the appreciation. When you arrive you are deemed to have acquired your assets and so pay tax only on the gains from that day forward. When I leave the US with appreciated assets (i.e. stock) I will owe no US tax on them and if I return to Canada I will only owe taxes on any increase in value from the day I arrive.

Hyperborea

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149244 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 8:56 PM
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Back to the original subject -

1) You may want to post this also on the Pet Lover's board:
http://boards.fool.com/Messages.asp?mid=20297462&bid=112961
There are Vets there who may be able to give you more specific advice.

2) Northern California is beautiful, but if you live in any of the cities, your cost of living will be outrageous - this is coming from someone who lives in Southern California. People think MY Cost of living is high, but San Francisco makes ME shudder. Being a medium-to-large animal vet, you would do better in rural areas anyway. But I did want to warn you of that, so that if you start looking at housing costs and such you don't have a heart attack.

3) Many of the mid-west states would probably have a high demand for vets and a relatively low cost of living.

I think some of the questions you need to ask yourself are:
A) How long do you plan to stay here
B) Are there things, besides saving for retirement, that you would like to do during those years (culture, cuisine, sightseeing, etc.)
C) Are there cultural things you just can't stand (If you hate country music, there are nearly whole states you might want to avoid. If you hate rap, there are other places to avoid, etc.)

The nice thing about the USA is it is pretty big, so you truly do have your choice of preferred weather patterns. Personally, I'd start there, by eliminating any type of weather I wouldn't want to live in (and work in, since some of your work might be out doors).

I used to have a link to a site where you rated different criteria (including tax rates, school system, crime, unemployment rate, weather, etc.) by priority and it told you which cities and states would be best for you. If I can find it, I'll post it for you.

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Author: Aranknitter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149247 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 9:04 PM
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taxes for aliens often do not allow for the right of offset


Fortunately, not a problem for us. DH is a US citizen, and the kids are all dual citizens.

We have been here for 7 years and still do not have a greencard


Just a guess here - your INS office has got to be Laguna Niguel, right???

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Author: 1HappyFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149248 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/9/2004 9:04 PM
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(So, obviously I have no interest in MunkeeNutz's attempts to pander out 1HF)

LOL. My DW will be so relieved. She's categorically opposed to polygamy. I'm the category for whom she opposes it.<g>

It's been fun shredding MunkeeNutz with you tonight. I'm outta recs and off for an evening with my one and only. Don't know why MN thought I might need another. He's probably projecting his own inadequacy onto his self-inflicted tormenters.<g> Strangest form of self abuse I ever heard of.

1HF


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Author: FogChicken Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149369 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/10/2004 12:06 PM
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This is a fantastic discussion - I must bookmark this thread or save it for future reference. I didn't even know about the expatriation tax myself, although it's a number of years yet before I'll be covered - thanks for providing that info.

My own plans will have me turning in my green card before I fall under the expatriation tax.

That will probably be me as well - we'll either leave permanently or stay permanently, and we'll know which of the two well before the eight years are up.

I have plans to take up tax residence in a much cheaper tax locale that has a very favourable tax treaty with the US and then withdraw my IRA out with 0% tax on either end and only pay the 10% early withdrawal penalty (I'll only be in my mid-40's).

That sounds great if you can make it work. I assume that the tax treaty is necessary to make this happen? In other words, if you are no longer a lawful permanent resident or tax resident of the USA but want to make withdrawals from a tax-deferred IRA, then you are still expected to pay US taxes on that in the absence of a treaty?

Finally, does anyone have a good recommendation for a tax advisor specializing in these sort of issues? I've adopted a DIY approach to this stuff in the past, but I suspect this might be an area where I could use some help.


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Author: scottishgirlvet Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149373 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/10/2004 12:14 PM
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Hiya again,

Wow. I feel like the wee bairn sent to bed early since my time zone is +5 hours from the East Coast US, and the heart of this discussion occurred whilst I was sleeping..........

I agree with FogChicken (and by the by, thanks for emailing me!). This is a fantastic thread, and full of a myriad of information that I didn't even know existed, and that I didn't even know I needed to consider (I admit, I am a wet-behind-the-ears novice, but what I lack in experience, I make up for in enthusiasm).

What I can tell you is this: I am checking reciprocity between my college and the AVMA. I think that, upon very good recommendation, I will probably do an internship (I just turned 24 in Decmeber, so am young enough).

I cannot tell how much this has helped me, nor can I express the depth of gratitude to people who, if they passed me on the street, I wouldn't even know.

Thank you.

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Author: Hyperborea Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149403 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/10/2004 1:22 PM
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That sounds great if you can make it work. I assume that the tax treaty is necessary to make this happen? In other words, if you are no longer a lawful permanent resident or tax resident of the USA but want to make withdrawals from a tax-deferred IRA, then you are still expected to pay US taxes on that in the absence of a treaty?

Check out Table 1 in IRS publication 901 and you will see that the withholding tax on "pensions and annuities", which is the category for IRAs, is 30% for "other countries" (countries without treaties). You will be able to file taxes as a non-resident (1040NR) and possibly get a refund of some US taxes depending on the amount actually withdrawn and therefore taxes withheld. Depending on the tax system of the country that you are a resident in you may or may not get credits or deductions against their tax for the US tax already paid.

Finally, does anyone have a good recommendation for a tax advisor specializing in these sort of issues? I've adopted a DIY approach to this stuff in the past, but I suspect this might be an area where I could use some help.

There seems to be two sorts of sources for this kind of professional help: very large firms that usually deal with very large clients for very large fees and have the resources for dealing with most countries tax systems; and small firms that are usually owned by someone who is a native of another country and specializes in US and their home country's tax system. When I came to the US the company that relocated me provided access to the first and I have been informally chatting with some of the latter.

Hyperborea

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Author: WeeBeastie Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149422 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/10/2004 2:03 PM
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Just a guess here - your INS office has got to be Laguna Niguel, right???

It's the California processing center (no specifics are given on localities of the centers). It's not the worst in the country, believe it or not. However, processing on all cases is so backed up that last year we had to go to the INS in San Francisco to get our employment authorization as they still weren't through after five months. It was a day of pure hell. I expect to have to do the same again this year.


EmploymentAuthorisedBeastie

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Author: FogChicken Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149424 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/10/2004 2:08 PM
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Check out Table 1 in IRS publication 901 and you will see that the withholding tax on "pensions and annuities", which is the category for IRAs, is 30% for "other countries" (countries without treaties).

Very interesting - thanks for the reference. I'm somewhat embarrassed to discover that my country does have a tax treaty with the USA after all (fortunately none of the provisions affect anything I've done to date). I had been told in the past that we didn't but that was in the context of teaching and research, which it doesn't address.

On the plus side, it turns out that the treaty for my country specifies a 0% tax rate on pensions and annuities, so it seems we're in great shape for anything that's in my name.

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Author: Aranknitter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149475 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/10/2004 4:23 PM
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It's the California processing center (no specifics are given on localities of the centers). It's not the worst in the country, believe it or not.


Yep, I've heard of it, the CA Service Center. I'm told by other immigrants that it's in Laguna Niguel. My sympathies. I've read of some immigrants who were faced with having to return home due to delays. I'm very glad I didn't choose CA myself. I have exactly the same weather here in NC, but it's a lot cheaper and the INS office processed me in one year.

Having said that, though, my green card was marriage based. I could have gone either route - marriage based or work based. However the company attornies strongly advised the marriage based green card which could be processed at a local INS district office much more quickly. The work based green cards all get processed at Service Centers. My wait time might have been as long as yours if I had gone the work based GC route...

I believe the worst one in the country for delays is Nebraska. I wonder why this is so, as I would not think there's much in Nebraska - isn't it the Great Plains? TSC runs the NSC very close these days though.

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149495 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/10/2004 5:05 PM
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Found the site where you can rate diferent features and it will tell you the best US cities for you:

http://www.realestatejournal.com/toolkit_res/bestplaces.html

Hope it helps!

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Author: WeeBeastie Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149549 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/10/2004 7:30 PM
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Yep, I've heard of it, the CA Service Center. I'm told by other immigrants that it's in Laguna Niguel. My sympathies. I've read of some immigrants who were faced with having to return home due to delays.

Well, with hindsight the delay has been somewhat of a blessing. With Hyperborea setting me straight on the expatriation tax, it looks like the INS delay is what will get me off the hook. Suits me. I am happy to queue for an hour at 6am in the morning and sit for an entire day in the INS office, once a year, to get an employment authorization if that means I get to save several hundred thousand dollars in taxes. (how's that for a run-on sentence!!). Of course the downside is that we get nervous that the employment authorizations won't be granted, but I'm beginning to care less and less.

They have processed one month's worth of I-485s in the last eighteen months. I am six or seven months behind the current date. At the current rate of processing, I will get my greencard in 9 to 11 years. And then we have Bush talking about documenting the illegals. They can't even process the friggin' legals!!

Oh well.

LegalBeastie

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Author: WeeBeastie Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149550 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/10/2004 7:39 PM
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Our plans are for the first n years of retirement to be spent as perpetual travellers. Not constantly in motion but perhaps 4 months in one place and then 6 somewhere else.

Oooh that sounds nice. I must be a right lazy cow because I want to spend my first six months in perpetual pajamas. I don't think we'll actually buy a house when we go back. I think we will rent for the first six months and then take off (but the plan changes by the day!). Pets are a problem though (at least we don't have any miniature humans).

Make sure that you evenly divide your assets between you and your husband before you cease to be US tax residents.

It used to be that joint accounts were assumed to be 50/50. Joint accounts would save a load of headaches, so I'll need to see if this still applies. Obviously I can only do this in taxable accounts, but I don't plan on using the retirement accounts for a very long time anyhow so I'll worry about those after a decade or so.

Another interesting one that may not apply is that Canada has a deemed acquisition and deemed disposition system. I'm unsure whether Britain does or not.

I don't think the UK does, but I will certainly check on that - peachy if they do!!

Your advice on this thread has been invaluable Hyperborea. Thanks for taking the time to help me out.

PajamaBeastie

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Author: jjbklb Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149715 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/11/2004 12:26 PM
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I think being a relief vet would provide the best of both worlds for you.You need to check on state license requirements.You may have to take the exam for a given state.Some states have reciprical agreements with other states as far as recognizing your license.You could pick a few states in different areas of the country & take the needed tests to get licensed to practice.Then get the list of what states have a reciprical agreement to recognize that license.
You now have different sections of the country to get the flavor of while you work there.Relief vets earn a higher salary then an associate vet.You pick who you want to work for,where in the country,how long you want to work.
Work as much or as little as you want.You could work part of the year in the US ,then live the rest of the time in Scotland if you want.

There are clearing houses for relief vets in the journals & online.
You register with them.List the states that you are licensed in.Tell them where & when you are availible for work.They will send you a list of job openings that are availible to you.
Once you have done relief work for awhile,if your good with the clients & animals,you will get repeat offers & word of mouth recommendations for other practices in the area.

Good Luck

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Author: Aranknitter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149723 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/11/2004 12:50 PM
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You pick who you want to work for,where in the country,how long you want to work.
Work as much or as little as you want.You could work part of the year in the US ,then live the rest of the time in Scotland if you want.


NO, you cannot. The rules for H visas are NOT that flexible. You must be in a minimum three-quarter-time permament employment with ONE employer.

You can do this when you get the green card. For the years that you will be working on H and waiting for the green card, you cannot legally do this.

Getting the work situation wrong can lead to a 10 year ban from the USA under IIRAIRA.

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Author: scottishgirlvet Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149724 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/11/2004 12:53 PM
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Daunting.

But I know it can be done--'cause living proof exists in Aranknitter, WeeBeastie, FogChicken, and Hyperborea (maybe others I have forgotten or do not know?).

I am treading very carefully.

Again cheers to all who have provided so much help.

Briony

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Author: Aranknitter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149726 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/11/2004 1:03 PM
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But I know it can be done--'cause living proof exists in Aranknitter, WeeBeastie, FogChicken, and Hyperborea (maybe others I have forgotten or do not know?).

Aranknitter never worked part time and never worked for more than one employer at a time when she was on her H visa. I would bet good cold hard cash that WeeBeastie has neither worked part time nor for more than one employer at a time either, since her I-485 is still pending.

FogChicken HAS the green card. So does Hyperborea. Having the green card frees you to do whatever you want.

I can assure you, the H visa actually has the name of your employer printed on it, and you CANNOT work for anyone else. The penalties for working illegally are very severe. A 10-year ban from the USA includes holiday travel or business visits... not just not being able to live here.

J visas are also restricted in many ways, if you go that route.

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Author: Hyperborea Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149740 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/11/2004 1:48 PM
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Aranknitter:
NO, you cannot. The rules for H visas are NOT that flexible. You must be in a minimum three-quarter-time permament employment with ONE employer.

You can hold an H-1B for part-time work and you can hold multiple H-1Bs for multiple simultaneous jobs (i.e. one for full-time software engineer and a second for part-time teaching at the local community college OR multiple H-1Bs for two part-time teaching jobs at two different colleges, etc.). If you only have a part-time job then you will need to be able to support yourself with that level of income and be able to prove that to the INS.

Hyperborea

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Author: Aranknitter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149745 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/11/2004 1:51 PM
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You can hold an H-1B for part-time work


Three-quarter-time work.

I checked with the company immigration attorney.

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Author: Hyperborea Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149746 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/11/2004 1:51 PM
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But I know it can be done--'cause living proof exists in Aranknitter, WeeBeastie, FogChicken, and Hyperborea (maybe others I have forgotten or do not know?).

Find the employer first. That is the only person who can get you the work visa. Though you should also be at least familiar with the laws yourself because if the employer screws up it is you who gets the screwing.

For British specific advice and help you might want to try out - http://britishexpats.com/forum/

Hyperborea

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Author: Aranknitter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149748 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/11/2004 1:54 PM
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you can hold multiple H-1Bs for multiple simultaneous jobs (i.e. one for full-time software engineer and a second for part-time teaching at the local community college OR multiple H-1Bs for two part-time teaching jobs at two different colleges, etc.).


Yes, but it is still ONE employer per H-1B visa, right???

Meaning ANY employer you work for, must get you an H-1B on which their name appears.

You cannot simply choose to work for 6 employers when you only hold an H-1B that has the name of one employer on it. That is the mistake most people make.

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Author: Hyperborea Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149751 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/11/2004 2:01 PM
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you can hold multiple H-1Bs for multiple simultaneous jobs (i.e. one for full-time software engineer and a second for part-time teaching at the local community college OR multiple H-1Bs for two part-time teaching jobs at two different colleges, etc.).
------------

Yes, but it is still ONE employer per H-1B visa, right???


Yes, you've correctly restated what I wrote.

Hyperborea

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Author: scottishgirlvet Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149754 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/11/2004 2:07 PM
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Good night. Catch y'all (did I get it right?) tomorrow.....

Briony

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Author: Aranknitter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149755 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/11/2004 2:08 PM
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Yes, you've correctly restated what I wrote.

Which still doesn't change what I originally wrote.

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Author: FogChicken Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149839 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/11/2004 4:02 PM
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Find the employer first. That is the only person who can get you the work visa.

That's the correct approach - you need to find someone who wants to employ you, preferably someone who routinely employs foreign nationals and knows how the process works. Not every employer does, and the ones that don't can get themselves and you into trouble if they're not careful. An immigration lawyer should generally be part of the mix - often paid for by the employer if they know the process, but you can pay for one yourself if need be. If the employer doesn't know the process but is willing to work with a lawyer to get it right then you will probably also be OK. Get the lawyer involved before you agree on terms in this case since one of the requirements is that you be paid at least the going rate for the position in the US (to avoid foreign workers undercutting US citizens on salary, I presume).

I first came to the USA on a student (F1) visa and later switched to an H-1B visa when I got a job. Legal fees were something in the range of $1500 to $2000, paid for mostly by my employer. Getting a green card through employment is difficult, takes a long time (typically years) and will cost several thousand in legal fees. H-1B visas last six years at most (with an extension) so your employer will eventually need to sponsor you for a green card if they want to keep you. You can continue to work for that employer while your application is pending. I began the process with my former employer but switched to the family track (much quicker) when I got married.

You can find the details on H-1Bs at www.ins.gov. You'll get redirected, because the INS is now part of the Department of Making It Look Like We're Doing Something About Border Security, but the site looks pretty much identical to the old one once you get there.


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Author: tmeri Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 149943 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/11/2004 7:58 PM
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Briony writes:

Good night. Catch y'all (did I get it right?) tomorrow.....


Perfectly. Even the accent was spot on. ;-)

- tmeri

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Author: Nils44 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 150865 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/15/2004 9:36 AM
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<US citizens and LPRs are subject to US tax *any*where that they live, in the world. The US is the only Western nation who does this - taxes their citizens and LPRs even when they live abroad>

<<Not the only one but one of the very few that does this. It is my understanding that Finland also taxes based on citizenship.>>

According to the attached link, it appears the US is the only western country who taxes their citizens even if they no longer live in the US. The other ones per the article are the Phillipines, Romania and Entrea.

http://investorsoffshore.com/offshorepress/archK.asp

"Earlier, I said that every major country in the world - except one - taxes you on the income you receive while you are a resident. The exception is the United States, which taxes on the basis of residency or citizenship. Three other countries, the Philippines, Romania, and Entrea (eastern Africa) have adopted the U.S. approach. "

"The US taxes its citizens on their worldwide income."




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Author: Aranknitter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 150930 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/15/2004 2:10 PM
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According to the attached link, it appears the US is the only western country who taxes their citizens even if they no longer live in the US. The other ones per the article are the Phillipines, Romania and Entrea.

THanks for that link. It was my tax accountant that told me that, as well as the rules for SS. I had no internet link to look at before, so when Hyperborea started contradicting, I figured I would re-check with my tax accountant when I see him in March. Good to know my tax accountant is the one who is correct, since I rely on him to keep me out of trouble with the IRS!! :)

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Author: Hyperborea Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 151188 of 744355
Subject: Re: An RE question Date: 2/16/2004 6:37 PM
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Nils44:
<<Not the only one but one of the very few that does this. It is my understanding that Finland also taxes based on citizenship.>>

According to the attached link, it appears the US is the only western country who taxes their citizens even if they no longer live in the US. The other ones per the article are the Phillipines, Romania and Entrea.

http://investorsoffshore.com/offshorepress/archK.asp


Ahh, thanks for the correction. The site looks interesting and I'll have to spend a little more time browsing it for non-US investing/retirement information.

Thanks,
Hyperborea

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