Residency vs. Citizenship: All You Need To Know

Updated: 8 February 2023

People frequently confuse temporary residence permits with permanent residence or citizenship. Although there are some key similarities, there are also huge differences that affect both your life and your family’s.

In this article, we’re going to explain the difference between residency and citizenship. We’ll also mention the countries that grant residency and citizenship. Thus, you will have a better understanding of residence vs citizenship and citizen vs permanent resident.

What You Will Find in This Article

What Is a Residence Permit?

A residence permit is a document that allows you to stay in the country for a period, depending on your circumstances. The status of a residence permit must be renewed regularly to keep it valid. A resident permit often allows you to enter the country at any time, buy real estate, obtain health insurance, and enroll your children in a school. If you have a residency permit in an EU nation, you will be able to visit other Schengen countries without a visa for up to 90 days every six months. Apart from marriage, work, study, a residence permit is available through residency by investment programs, also named as Golden Visa.

residence permit

Who Is a Permanent Resident?

To be a permanent resident of a country, you must be a legal resident of that country, even if you are not a citizen. Regardless of whether or not you are a citizen, you have the legal right to dwell in the country permanently. Let us use the following example to illustrate what a permanent resident of a country is: Permanent residents in the United States of America, for example, are often referred to as ‘green card holders.’ In essence, to be a permanent resident means to be a legalized permanent resident of a country, even if you are not a citizen.

A permanent residence permit allows you to stay in the country for an endless period. The major distinction between temporary and permanent residence is this.

Permanent residence can be achieved in practically all EU nations by legally residing in the country for five or seven years. Every five years, the permanent residency card is to be renewed.

Holders of a permanent residency permit enjoy almost the same privileges as citizens. You can live, work, and do business indefinitely and take advantage of privileges such as free education for your children. The biggest restriction is that you are unable to vote or hold public office.

Who Is a Citizen?

Being a citizen, on the other hand, has significance. A citizen is a legitimate member of a country. The requirements for being recognized as a citizen of a country differ from one country to the next. One can become a citizen of a particular country as a result of being born in a country, having lived there for five to 10 years, or having been granted refugee status by the government.

Residency vs. Citizenship

We now have a fundamental understanding of what it means to be a resident, a permanent resident, and a citizen of a country. The next topic to consider is how these legal statuses compare to one another. We’ll go over the difference between citizen and permanent resident.

Citizen vs. Permanent Resident: Eligibility for a Passport

The most significant difference between citizenship and permanent residence is the ability to apply for a passport for the country in which you reside. Permanent residents do not have the right to apply for a passport.

If you have a passport from the country where you are currently residing and that country is a member of the European Union, you have more options for moving. Working and studying abroad is also becoming more accessible. As a result, possessing a passport as a citizen is extremely advantageous, particularly in the European Union

Residency vs. Citizenship: Right To Vote

Another significant difference between citizens and residents is the right to vote. In most nations, you can’t vote in elections unless you’ve lived in the country for a particular time. After living in a country for a particular amount of time, you can apply for citizenship and so vote in elections and referendums.

If you are a citizen of a country, you enjoy full voting rights as long as you meet the country’s age criteria.

Difference Between Residency and Citizenship: Residency Requirements

In some countries, your permanent residency status can be revoked if you stay out of the country for some time. For example, if you have Indefinite Leave to remain status in the UK, your ILR status may be lost if you’re absent from the country for more than two years. However, citizenship is for life.

What Is the Difference Between Citizen and a Resident?

Have the right to vote and stand for public officeNot able to vote or stand for public office
Citizenship can’t be canceledPermanent residency can be canceled
No residency requirementUsually required to live in the country for a specific period
Citizenship is for a lifetimeThe residency card is to be renewed
Citizenship can be passed onto your childrenDepending on the circumstances and eligibility of your children

Countries That Offer Residency by Investment

If you’re looking for a residency in another country than your own, a residency by investment programs can be ideal for you. Here are some countries that offer residency by investment. Note that these programs aren’t direct routes to citizenship but you can be eligible for citizenship if you meet the criteria after a certain period.

Portugal: You can be eligible for residency in Portugal through the Portugal Golden Visa program. The program grants a two-year temporary residency at the beginning. After five years, you can be eligible for permanent residency or citizenship.

Greece: If you’re looking for residency in Greece, you can check out the Greece Golden Visa program. It grants residency if you make a qualifying investment in the country.

Ireland: Ireland’s residency by investment program is an investor visa program. You can be granted residency in the country through either fund investment, REITs, donations, or enterprise investment. Your status can lead to citizenship if you stay in Ireland for a minimum of five years.

United Kingdom: If you’re looking to get residency in the UK, the Tier 1 Investor Visa might be another profitable option. If you abide by the requirements your visa can turn into Indefinite Leave to Remain status, and British citizenship eventually.

Malta: Another EU country that offers residency by investment is Malta. You can qualify for Malta residency if you make the required investment, plus a donation.

Spain: Residency in Spain is attainable through the Spain Golden Visa program. After holding a temporary residence status for five years, you can apply for permanent residence.

Golden Visa Programs

Countries That Offer Citizenship by Investment

Some countries offer programs that are direct routes to citizenship.

Turkey: Turkish citizenship by investment program is available through a real estate investment of $250,000. 

St.Kitts and Nevis: You can be eligible for St.Kitts and Nevis citizenship if you make a donation or qualifying investment.

Malta: Malta, apart from its residency by investment scheme, also offers a citizenship by investment program. You can become a Maltese citizen either in 12 or 36 months, depending on your investment amount.

Dominica: A Dominica passport is attainable in exchange for a donation or real estate acquisition. 

Citizenship by Investment Programs

Frequently Asked Questions on the Difference Between Citizen and Permanent Resident

What is the difference between citizen and resident?

There is a significant difference between residency and citizenship. A residency permit is a document that permits you to remain in the nation for a certain amount of time, based on your situation.

What is the difference between citizen and permanent resident?

The right to have a passport of the nation where you live and the right to vote is the most significant difference between citizenship and permanent residence.

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