Residency Vs Citizenship

Published September 12, 2020

Residency Vs Citizenship

What are the differences? Which is the better option?

We often hear people using the terms “Resident” and “Citizen” interchangeably as if they -more or less- are the same thing. Well, actually they are not. There is a high degree of difference between the two.

Let’s start with a quick definition :

Residency means that you have the legal right to live in the country of your choosing for a specific period of time. You are not considered a tourist or a visitor of any kind but a legal alien of the country. The status of permanent resident goes one step further, granting you the right to stay indefinitely. Depending on the country, residents are entitled to reside, work, go to schools or universities and access the public health system of the host country.
Citizenship means that you have the right to obtain a passport. That you have the right to vote. That you can live and work just like any other native-born person. You may even run for a seat in public office if you so desire. Citizenship is permanent by definition and cannot be revoked.

Are residency and citizenship connected? Or how can residency lead to citizenship?

Residency may be obtained a lot easier than citizenship. The most common way is to apply for residency in order to pursue a course of studies. Usually, the initial residency status is temporary and after a number of years and under certain criteria it may become permanent.  Alternatively, you can buy your way into residency. This is what we call Residency by investment or Golden Visa. It is the process of obtaining a residency card in another country by investing in that country’s economy.
Depending on the country and the particular offering, the investment will lead to temporary or permanent residency. For example, Greece offers permanent residency from day one whereas Portugal and Spain offer temporary residency for the first 5 years.

A residency status opens the way to citizenship. Every country applies different rules. The most common scenario is to live in a country for several years and then apply for citizenship. It may be required to speak the language or have a business employing a certain number of people. This is what we call “citizenship by naturalization”.
Or else, if in a hurry to obtain your new nationality, you may choose a country where you may actually buy a passport, through a speedy process that can last only a few months. Prices start from 100,000 USD in a Caribbean country and go as high as 2+ million Euros in order to acquire a European Union passport.

The huge difference in prices is directly proportional to the value and status of the acquired nationality. The most prestigious passports in the world come from the 27 countries that are members of the European Union. The holder of a European Union passport may live and work in any of the 27 EU countries and EU passport holders may travel without a visa requirement in most countries of the world.

It is no surprise that among the top 20 of the global passport index as published by Henley & Partners, 17 countries are from Europe, along with Japan, Singapore and S. Korea.

Residency (or Citizenship) by investment is the process of obtaining a permanent residency card (or passport) in another country by investing in the economy of that country. The residency (or citizenship) status is then granted much faster compared to other residency applications.

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