Immigrating to Europe from the United States can be lengthy and complicated. The time it takes to successfully move to a European country varies heavily, depending on factors such as the individual’s current immigration status in the US, their desired country of residence, and more. 

In general, there are two primary avenues for non-European citizens seeking to immigrate to Europe legally: applying for a visa or applying for citizenship. Depending on an individual’s particular situation within each category, the timeline for successful immigration could range from several weeks to several years. 

Applying for Permanent residency in Europe

If one is already a US permanent resident (green card holder), one may be eligible for specific visa programs that could make the immigration process simpler and faster. The most popular visa for green card holders is an EU Blue Card, valid in all countries within the European Union (EU). To be eligible for this option, applicants must have specific qualifications and prove that they are financially independent in their current country of residence. The timeline for obtaining an EU Blue Card ranges from one to three months, depending on the country of residence.

Applying for a visa in Europe

If someone does not possess a permanent resident status in the US, they may still be able to obtain a visa, but it will likely take longer than if they already have a green card. Depending on their desired destination, applicants may need to apply through local embassies or consulates as part of the process. Depending on their case, it could take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months or longer to obtain a visa. 

Applying for citizenship in Europe

In addition to visas, some individuals may be eligible to apply for citizenship in certain European countries. In most cases, applying for citizenship requires applicants to prove long-term residency in the country, demonstrate knowledge of its language and culture, and pass a background check. The timeline for this application can vary greatly depending on the country’s requirements and circumstances. Generally, successful applications are processed within one to two years, but some may take longer. 

Overall, immigrating to Europe from the United States is not easy and can take considerable time, depending on the individual’s situation. Factors such as an individual’s current immigration status, desired country of residence, and more will all play a role in determining how long it could take to complete the process. It is advisable that applicants seeking to move to Europe from the US research their destinations thoroughly and consult with legal professionals for accurate timelines and advice when applying for visas or citizenship. 

Which European countries will fast-track the immigration process?

Some countries offer specific options for those wishing to immigrate from the United States, potentially expediting the process even further. For example, Germany offers “fast-track” visa programs explicitly designed for American citizens who can demonstrate already existing professional qualifications or specialized scientific knowledge. This program can be processed in as little as two weeks, though applicants must have detailed documentation of their qualifications and experience to apply. For those without such credentials, a general visa application could take up to six months or longer. 

The easiest european countries to get citizenship are generally those with a long-standing history of welcoming non-EU citizens, such as Ireland and the UK. Both countries offer various pathways to citizenship, including marriage or ancestry, that can be processed quickly. Similarly, some Central and Eastern European countries such as Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland have relaxed rules for obtaining citizenship. Depending on what route is chosen and an individual’s situation within each pathway, it could take anywhere from several months to a couple of years to successfully apply for these programs. 

Which European countries offer Digital Nomad Visas?

The digital nomad visa trend has seen a sharp rise in recent years, and many European countries are now offering visas designed explicitly for this lifestyle. A digital nomad visa allows individuals to work remotely in the country for extended periods without needing to obtain permanent residence. Countries such as Estonia, Portugal, Finland, and Greece all have these types of visas available, with timelines typically ranging from one to three months, depending on the application process and any additional requirements. 

The final word

Immigrating to Europe from the United States will most likely be a lengthy process that requires proper planning and research beforehand. Each pathway has unique requirements and timelines; thus, applicants must understand their situation and consult a legal professional for the best advice. With the right resources and an understanding of your options, you can successfully move to Europe within a reasonable timeframe.