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Residence permits and passports for relocating to another country

One needs a residence permit, permanent residence card or passport to relocate to another country. A tourist visa is unsuitable as it limits the rights and the period of stay in the country.

Learn about the difference between a residence permit, permanent residence and citizenship and where to get them by investment.

Residence permit is a must for moving to a different country

A residence permit allows the holder to relocate to the issuing country. This document is valid temporarily for 1 to 5 years. Upon expiration, a resident renews their permit if they plan to stay in the country.

Grounds for obtaining a residence permit. Foreigners usually must have valid reasons for relocation and getting residence permits. For example, if they have found a job, entered a university in the country, or want to move with their spouse.

Applicants for residence permits must meet strict requirements. For example, pass a language proficiency exam or spend at least 183 days a year in the country to be able to renew a residence permit. Besides, the residence permit won’t be renewed if a foreigner ceases to have reasons for residing in the country, like after losing their job, dropping out of a university or getting divorced.

An investment residence permit is easier to get and renew. Investors don’t have to pass language exams or look for a job or another ground for relocation. In addition, they aren’t obliged to spend all their time in the country of second residency.

Holders of residence permits can move to the country and enrol their children in local schools and universities. In some cases, investors can work and do business in the country of residence.

If the state is a part of the Schengen Area, its residents can spend 90 days out of 180 within the region. The time spent in the country of residence doesn’t count; the terms apply to travelling across the Schengen states.

Portugal, Greece, Spain, Andorra, and the UAE offer to get their residence permits by investment. The investment amount depends on the country; the minimum is $204,000. Obtaining a residence permit card takes several months.

Golden Visas for moving to Portugal

Imran and Lusine built a family and successful careers in Canada. But they both visited Portugal yearly to surf and fell in love with the ocean and the country. 

Giving it a thought, they decided to obtain Portuguese residence permits and relocate. To make their dream come true, Imran and Lucine bought a villa on the island of Madeira.

Read the full story

Residence permits for financially independent persons allow relocation to another country without investments or grounds like employment or studies. But there are some limitations. As a rule, a financially independent person must receive all income from foreign sources and spend at least 183 days a year in the country of residence.

Austria, Switzerland, and some other European countries offer a residence permit for financially independent persons without the right to work in the country.

The conditions for obtaining such a residence permit differ depending on the country. For example, the applicant must prove their proficiency in German on the A1 level, rent housing and earn enough to live in the country to qualify for a residence permit in Austria. Switzerland sets the requirement to conclude a tax agreement with a canton and yearly pay a lump-sum tax of at least ₣450,000.

Portugal has a D7 visa for financially independent foreigners. One needs to prove they have purchased or rented housing in the country and income from abroad exceeding the Portuguese minimum wage. A foreigner can work in Portugal after obtaining a residence permit. 

We advise getting a residence permit for financially independent persons only if you want to relocate to the chosen country and don’t plan to travel a lot or spend most of the year in other states.

Permanent residence: several years of living in the country or investments

Permanent residence is a long-term status granted for several years or life. A permanent residence card must be renewed but less frequently than a residence permit. For example, an EU permanent residence card is valid for at least five years.

Permanent residence usually provides more rights than a temporary residence permit. Its holder can live, study, work, and do business for longer without renewing the status. Besides, the requirements for staying in the country are more relaxed than for holders of temporary residence permits. 

Obtaining permanent residence requires living in the country with a residence permit for several years or participating in an investment program.

Permanent residence by investment can be obtained in Malta or Cyprus. 

Both countries provide a life-long status while spending all the time there is not mandatory. For example, Cypriot permanent residents must visit the country once in two years to maintain residency.

Investments required to get Malta permanent residence include renting or purchasing a property, paying administrative and contribution fees and making a charitable donation. Maltese permanent residents can live, study, do business in the country and travel across the Schengen Area visa-free.

Malta permanent residence for starting a new life in Europe

Grayson used to live in the north of the USA and work remotely for a European company. But after a divorce, he decided to bring a change into his life.

The Malta Permanent Residence Programme turned out to be the best opportunity for a fresh start. Grayson rented an apartment by the beach and relocated to warm Malta with his dog in nine months.

Read the full story

Cyprus permanent residence is obtained by investing at least €300,000. Investors and their family members get the right to live in the country and study at local schools and universities. But investors and their spouses mustn’t get employed in Cyprus. The only exception is being a director of a company that received investments from the main applicant under the permanent residence program. 

Cyprus isn’t in the Schengen Area, and Cypriot permanent residents don’t have advantages for travelling across Europe.

Citizenship after a temporary or permanent residence permit

Citizenship is a status that confirms the ties between a person and the country. Citizens can live in the country of citizenship or move abroad without the risk of losing their status. In addition, citizens are protected by the state on its territory and overseas.

A passport or an ID card proves citizenship.

A passport gives the right for visa-free travelling to all states with visa waiver agreements with the country of citizenship. Thus, citizens of India can freely visit 87 countries, while Maltese nationals can travel to 185 destinations.

Foreigners usually obtain citizenship by naturalisation after several years of living in the country as residents. This period is 5 to 12 years in the EU and the USA.

Citizenship must be obtained through permanent residence in some countries. For example, this rule is valid in Switzerland, Greece and Germany. In Portugal, permanent residence can be skipped: a foreigner can apply either for permanent residence or citizenship after five years of holding a residence permit.

How to get citizenship by naturalisation

Residence permit
For work or doing business, for financially independent persons, by investment
Permanent residence
After several years of living in the country with a residence permit
After several years of living in the country with a residence permit or permanent residence

Investors obtain second citizenship faster and easier than other applicants. For example, they can get Malta citizenship for exceptional services by direct investment: in this case, naturalisation takes one or three years

Vanuatu and Caribbean countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia offer citizenship by investment programs. Applicants get their passports remotely in 2 to 8 months. Citizenship of these countries allows to travel the world visa-free, come to the island anytime, and optimise taxes.

Turkey citizenship can be obtained by investing at least $400,000. The obtaining period is at least 6 months. The Turkish passport allows its holder to relocate to the country or visit it anytime and get long-term tourist visas to the Schengen countries and the USA.

Turkey citizenship for moving to the country

Jamal and Hanan bought an apartment in Kemer and got Turkey residence permits. The couple spent half a year in the country and fell in love with their new relaxing lifestyle. 

Investors decided to stay in Turkey and get citizenship. They contacted Immigrant Invest to buy another property suitable for the citizenship program. With the lawyers’ help, Jamal and Hanan got second passports in seven months.

Read the full story

Holders of European residence permits can become citizens by naturalisation. An investor must maintain residency for five years before applying for citizenship in Portugal and live for at least seven years in Greece.

Difference between a residence permit, permanent residence and citizenship: highlights

  1. An official document like a residence permit or a passport is required for relocation to another country. An ordinary tourist visa is unsuitable for this purpose.
  2. A residence permit is usually issued for 1 to 5 years. It must be renewed if you plan to stay in the country for longer.
  3. Permanent residence is usually granted after several years of living in the country. This status is valid for longer than a residence permit; in some cases, it’s granted for life.
  4. Citizenship is a life-long status. It allows the holder to enjoy all the rights and freedoms in the country of citizenship, live there for an unlimited time and go abroad without the risk of losing citizenship.
  5. A residence permit, permanent residence or citizenship can be obtained by investment. This path usually requires less time and effort than others.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is moving to a foreign country worth it?

Moving to another country is worth it if you want to drastically change your life and benefit from new experiences. It will give you new opportunities and allow you to meet a lot of new people.

What is the best country to live in as a foreigner?

Among the best countries for living are Austria, Germany, Spain, the UAE, Canada, New Zealand. They have a high level of life and big communities of expats from all over the world.

Some of these countries grant residence permits by investment. For example, you can obtain the Spain Golden Visa by investing €500,000+ in the country’s economy. The UAE also has the Golden Visa program. Under it you need to invest at least $204,000 to obtain a residence permit for 2 years.

Austria grants residence permits for financially independent persons. They need to live in the country for 183+ days, have a stable income and rent or buy housing. The residence permit is given for a year and can be extended.

How can I legally move to another country?

There are several grounds under which you can legally move to another country. For example, work, studying in the university, family reunification, or marriage.

Some countries also allow foreigners to obtain their citizenship or residence permits by investment. Among the countries that grant citizenship are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Turkey, and Vanuatu.

Residence permits by investment can be obtained in Andorra, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Portugal, Spain, and the UAE.

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Schedule a meeting at one of the offices or online. A lawyer will analyze the situation, calculate the cost and help you find a solution based on your goals.

Zlata Erlach, Caribbean Investment Program Expert
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