Immigration is often seen as something either for young families who are looking to improve the quality of life for them and their offspring, or for retirees who are intent on making the most of their twilight years. Bu what if you fall in-between these two categories? What options are there for would be emigrants in their 40s and 50s? The answer, of course is entirely dependent on your intended destination.
For example, due to the European Union’s Freedom of Movement laws, British citizens of any age can become resident of any other EU country, providing they can provide proof that they can support themselves financially once they arrive. However, if you’re looking to move further afield – say to one of the big 4 long-haul emigration destinations: Australia, Canada, New Zealand or America – then the path to a new life overseas is not so straightforward, and it has to be said that it does become trickier to obtain the required visas the older you get. Assuming that you have no close family members already living in the country you’re interested in moving to, then the chances are you’re going to need to apply for either a skilled or business visa to secure your permanent residence. (If you do have close family living in your intended destination, then there is a chance that they may be able to sponsor you regardless of your age, although this will depend on various factors including your actual relationship to the sponsor and the country’s particular immigration requirements). To move to Australia
through the country’s General Skilled Migration programme, an applicant must not have turned 50 by the date they apply for a visa. Any applicants aged 50 or over are simply not eligible for a skilled visa to Oz. There is no age limit on business visas, although the requirement for either prior business experience or a hefty investment will severely dent the hopes of many exploring this route. Australia is different from the other countries mentioned in this article as it is the only one which offers a specific retirement visa (for those aged 55 or over). However, this is another option that requires a hefty investment, and the temporary nature of the visa, it is valid for four years although this can be extended on a rolling basis (albeit with further investment needed each time) on an indefinite basis, also puts people off. The good news for those looking to make a move to New Zealand through the country’s Skilled Migrant Category is that the upper age limit requirement is slightly older than for Australia’s skilled visa routes. Applicants for this visa must be 55 or under. If you plan to go down the business visa route in NZ, then those applying through the Investor programme must be 65 or younger, although there is no age limit for those with deeper pockets who can qualify through the Investor Plus stream. It’s worth noting here, however, that while applicants in their 40s can apply for a skilled visa in both Australia and New Zealand, the number of points you are awarded for the age factor – visas in both countries are points tested – become fewer the closer to the upper age limit you get. This is likewise the case in Canada. While there is actually no age limit imposed on the country’s new Express Entry programme, which handles all skilled visa applications, no points are awarded to any applicants aged over 45. While this will undoubtedly make reaching the required points threshold needed to be invited to apply for a visa harder to obtain, it is not impossible for those over 45 to receive a visa as the points loss can be made up in other factors – especially if you are able to secure a pre-arranged job in the country or have previous Canadian work experience. Finally, age is not a major factor when it comes to applying for American visas.
The US immigration system is perhaps not as straightforward as those in the aforementioned countries and visas are often awarded on more of a case-by-case basis. Therefore, middle aged applicants who have outstanding skills and experience in an area deemed to be in demand in the States theoretically
stand more chance of getting a visa than those aged in their 20s and 30s who don’t offer the same qualities. However, the American immigration system is often long and convoluted, with demand for visas being far higher than supply, so in spite of the lack of age limits the reality is that America will prove as, if not more, difficult to get into as any of the other countries. So there you have it. Visa routes do exist for would-be emigrants who are in or approaching their middle years.
But for those of you who are wavering over the decision of whether you should go for it or not, the advice is simple: do it now, before it’s too late.