Permanent Residency vs Citizenship: Explaining the Difference
There can be, understandably, some confusion regarding permanent residency vs. citizenship. It’s important to understand that they are very different statuses in a country and that each difference between them must be understood, or you risk getting into a situation that doesn’t forward your goals or is difficult to get out of.
Here at Range Developments, we do our best to guide clients through Citizenship by Investments programmes and ensure everyone knows the steps and legal statuses that they’ll find themselves in. As part of our efforts to educate people on what they need to know when considering visas or types of immigration, we’ve put together this guide so that you can better understand permanent residency vs citizenship, especially their differences.
What is a Residency Status?
Having the legal status of residency means you’re a legal alien in that country, which affords you several rights and limitations. It’s important to understand that different countries treat legal residents differently and there are two different kinds of residency:
Temporary Residency: Your status is temporary and granted for a set amount of time depending on the nation’s regulations and options afforded to legal aliens with temporary residency. It grants you permission to reside in and travel within the country, and you’ll retain your home country’s passport. It’s also important to note that exit and re-entry are almost always required to renew temporary residency. For example, in European Union countries the permit lasts a few months to 2 years.
Permanent Residency: This type of residency also allows you the freedom to reside and travel within the country, but can be a step towards gaining citizenship. Of course, different nations have different rules regarding the rights and limitations of those with residency, so it’s important to look at the laws in the country you’re interested in. Another key difference between permanent and temporary residency is the frequency of renewal and the steps to gain that legal status. For example, to gain permanent residency in the European Union you must first have had a temporary residency status or lived in an EU country for at least 5-years.
It’s important to note that some countries offer an immediate path to their passport via Citizenship by Investment programmes, like St. Kitts, Dominica or Grenada citizenship programs.
What is Citizenship?
Citizenship is significantly different than any form of residency in that your legal status means being a member of that country and can participate in it as any born citizen would be per their laws. Unlike the legal status of residency, you’re able to benefit from all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities granted by the government.
Another key difference is that by holding citizenship in that country, you will be entitled to visa-free travel to the countries depending on the diplomatic relationships and agreements between the country in question and others. For example, Grenada’s visa-free travel country’s list includes the United Kingdom, Schengen countries, Russia, China and many others out of more than 140 countries.
Unlike residency programs in other countries, citizenship can be passed down through the generations and is for life without any requirements to keep it. Depending on the country you have citizenship in, you may be able to keep your former citizenship as well and hold dual citizenship.
Residency vs. Citizenship
Both residency and citizenship are no easy feat to achieve, but they have many differences between them. While different countries have more specific rights granted to citizens or residents, the following differences hold true in most countries:
- With citizenship, you can obtain a passport while those with residency may only obtain a travel document.
- Residency statuses are conditional while citizenship is a permanent status that cannot be revoked once obtained.
- Those with residency status are not granted the same political rights as citizens if any at all.
- A citizen cannot be deported while those with residency status can.
- Individuals with residency status may not be allowed re-entry if leaving the country they have residency in while a citizen may enter and exit freely, though within customs laws.
- Those with residency status may not be able to bring family members into the country while citizens can depending on immigration laws.
- Citizenship is generational while residency of either kind is not.
As you can see, no matter the country in question, if they have a residency program then it is significantly different than a citizenship status. While it can be a step towards citizenship, it is a lengthy and costly one to undertake if it’s an option at all. Temporary and permanent residency can be a great way to gain access into another country to achieve short-term goals or work towards citizenship in a way that suits your means, but there are other options that circumvent this step entirely.
Citizenship by Investment & Citizenship
As mentioned earlier, not all countries provide citizenship programs, and those that do, don’t make it easy to gain it. No matter your reason for looking into ways to reside in another country or obtain citizenship in it, a potentially better way to achieve that goal is through a Citizenship by Investment programme.
Here at Range Developments, we have extensive experience guiding people through CBI programmes and helping them gain citizenship in St. Kitts, Grenada, and Dominica. By becoming a citizen in these island paradises, you circumvent many of the requirements around the world as well as enjoy a host of other benefits. You can explore the many advantages granted through their CBI programmes below:
Instead of working for years through residency requirements or debating citizenship in one country over another, embrace citizenship that opens doors to you rather than putting more obstacles in your path.
If you have any questions regarding Citizenship by Investment and the advantages it brings, we welcome you to speak with any of our CBI consultants.