Permanent residency

Not to be confused with Right of abode, Legal residence, or Tax residence.

Permanent residency refers to a person's visa status. The person is allowed to reside indefinitely within a country of which he or she is not a citizen. A person with such status is known as a permanent resident.

Permanent residency itself should be distinguished to right of abode, which waives the immigration control for such persons. Persons having permanent residency still requires immigration control if such persons do not hold a right of abode. However, a right of abode automatically grants persons a permanent residency.

Countries with permanent residency systems

Not every country necessarily has a facility for someone to be a 'permanent resident'. Rights and application may vary widely.

All European Union countries have a facility for someone to become a permanent resident, as EU legislation allows an EU national who moves to another EU country to attain permanent resident status after residing there for five years. The European Union also sets out permanent residency rights for long-term resident third country nationals under directive (2003/109/EC). A novel approach was the granting of rights across the national borders of states adhering to the directive.

Other countries have varying forms of such residency and relationships with other countries with regards to permanent residency status.

Japanese permission for permanent residence issued in 2011 on a French passport.

The countries that have some type of permanent resident status include:

Other forms of permanent residency

However, for voting, being voted and working for the public sector or the national security in a country, citizenship of the country concerned is almost always required.

Limitations of permanent residents

Depending on the country, permanent residents usually have the same rights as citizens except for the following:

Obligations of permanent residents

Permanent residents may be required to fulfill specific residence obligations to maintain their status. In some cases, permanent residency may be conditional on a certain type of employment or maintenance of a business.

Many countries have compulsory military service for citizens. Some countries, such as Singapore, extend this to permanent residents. However, in Singapore, most first generation permanent residents are exempted, and only their sons are held liable for NS.[13]

In a similar approach, the United States has Selective Service, a compulsory registration for military service, which is required of all male citizens and permanent residents ages 18 to 26; this requirement theoretically applies even to those residing in the country illegally.[14] Applications for citizenship may be denied or otherwise impeded if the applicant cannot prove having complied with this requirement.

Permanent residents may be required to reside in the country offering them residence for a given minimum length of time (as in Australia and Canada). Likewise, permanent residents cannot stay outside their host country for more than a certain period of time (as in the United States).

Just like citizens, permanent residents must pay taxes if they have a source of income.

Loss of status

Permanent residents may lose their status if they fail to comply with residency or other obligations imposed on them. For example:

Access to citizenship

Usually permanent residents may apply for citizenship by naturalisation after a period of permanent residency (typically five years) in the country concerned. Dual citizenship may or may not be permitted.

In many nations an application for naturalisation can be denied on character grounds, sometimes allowing people to reside in the country (as non-domiciled) but not become citizens. In the United States the residency requirements for citizenship are normally five years, even though permanent residents who have been married to a US citizen for three years or more may apply in three years. Those who have served in the armed forces may qualify for an expedited process allowing citizenship after only one year, or even without any residence requirement.[15]

Automatic entitlement

Full permanent residence rights are granted automatically between the following:

In some cases (e.g., the member states of the European Union) citizens of participating countries can live and work at will in each other's states, but don't have a status fully equivalent to that of a permanent resident. In particular, under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, Australia and New Zealand grant each other's citizens the right to reside permanently and work in each country; however, the rights and entitlements of New Zealanders living in Australia under this arrangement (the so-called Special Category Visa) are somewhat short of those of Australian permanent residents, in particular with respect to unemployment benefits and similar benefits.

Proof of permanent residency

People who are granted permanent residency in a country are usually issued some sort of documentary evidence as legal proof of this status. In the past, many countries merely stamped the person's passport indicating that the holder was admitted as a permanent resident or that he/she was exempt from immigration control and permitted to work without restriction. Other countries would issue a photo ID card, place a visa sticker or certificate of residence in the person's passport, or issue a letter to confirm their permanent resident status.

In Australia and New Zealand, a printout of permanent residence visa or resident visa is stuck to a page of the permanent resident's passport.

In Canada, permanent residents are issued a photo ID card known as Permanent Resident Card.

In Costa Rica, permanent residents are issued a photo ID card commonly referred to as a "cedula".

In Germany, resident permits (Aufenthaltstitel) have been issued as photo ID cards following a common EU design since 1 September 2011. Prior to that date, residence permits were stickers (similar to visas) which were affixed to the resident's passport.

In Ghana, permanent residents are issued an Indefinite Residence permit which is in the form of a sticker attached into the resident's passport.

In Hong Kong, permanent residents are issued a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card.

In Japan and South Korea, all resident foreigners are issued a residence card, and for permanent residents this status is indicated.

In Lithuania, permanent residents are issued a photo ID (Leidimas gyventi) following a common EU design.

In Macau, permanent residents are issued a Macao Permanent Resident Identity Card (Bilhete de Identidade de Residente Permanente).

In Malaysia, permanent residents are issued with a MyPR card similar to the MyKad issued to Malaysian citizens, the difference being the colour (red instead of blue) and additional information stating the cardholder's country of origin.

In Singapore, permanent residents are issued a blue identity card with their photograph, thumb print and other personal particulars similar to citizen's pink identity card

In South Africa, permanent residents who have their passport endorsed, are issued a certificate and a standard national green identity book showing "NON S.A. CITIZEN".[16]

In Slovakia, permanent residents are issued a red photo ID.

In Switzerland, permanent residents are issued a yellow ID.[9]

In Taiwan, permanent residents are issued a blue photo ID card (APRC). A separate open work permit can also be issued to permanent residents allowing them to accept employment in any non-governmental positions for which they are qualified.

In the United States, permanent residents are issued a photo ID card - officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, but unofficially referred to as a "green card".

In the United Kingdom, the applicant is issued with a photo ID card known as a Biometric Residence Permit which states that the permit is a Settlement permit for Indefinite Leave to Remain.[17][18]


  1. For details, see the Unofficial translation of the “Administrative Measures for Treatment of Foreigners Residing Permanently in China”, 2012-12-18
  2. 1 2 "CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT: Citizenship By Investment Options - Henley & Partners".
  3. "Finnish Immigration Service: Fact Sheet:Redidence permit for Finland Other than EU/EAA citizen (pdf)".
  4. "Étranger en France : carte de résident de 10 ans". Archived from the original on 2010-02-15.
  5. Archived December 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. "Want to apply: Permanent residence - UDI".
  9. 1 2 Permit C (settlement permit) – Federal Office for Migration Archived October 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. "中華民國內政部移民署全球資訊網 NATIONAL IMMIGRATION AGENCY".
  11. (ref: Convenção sobre Igualdade de Direitos e Deveres entre Brasileiros e Portugueses.) Presidência da República Federativa do Brasil (accessed March 11, 2013)
  12. (ref: Consular Services Charter (accessed June 29, 2012)
  13. "Singapore Permanent Residency". Expat Experience Singapore. Archived from the original on 2015-02-15.
  14. "Are illegal alien males required to register?," Selective Service System: Registration Information (accessed August 14, 2006)
  15. General Naturalization Requirements Archived March 7, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. "LISSA Permanent Residence Permit - Legal Migration Services". LISSA.
  17. "UK Border Agency - Settling in the UK". Home Office. Archived from the original on 2014-03-08. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  18. "nb Waiouru: No need to hide". Thomas Everard Jones. Retrieved 2014-03-07.

See also

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