What are Relocation, Visa, Residence Permit, Permanent Residency, and Citizenship?

Let’s start with the basics. Did you know that the number of international migrants has grown to 281 million, making up 3.6% of the world’s population? The world is becoming more open, and each year millions of people move in search of a better life. Today, we’ll talk about relocation and the steps you need to take for a successful move to a new country.

What is Relocation?

Relocation is moving to another city or country for temporary or permanent residence. The process includes obtaining the necessary documents, such as visas and residence permits, and sometimes even citizenship in the new country.

Main Reasons for Relocation

  • Career: For career advancement, higher salary, or starting your own business.
  • Education: To study in foreign universities, which offers access to a high level of education and new opportunities.
  • Family Circumstances: For family reunification or joining a spouse already living abroad.
  • Improving Quality of Life: To live in places with better environmental conditions, climate, infrastructure, and high-quality healthcare.
  • Political and Economic Stability: To live in more stable and safe countries in terms of economy and politics.
  • Adventure and New Experience: To change the environment, learn about new cultures, and different ways of life.

How to Move to Another Country?

You don’t have to be a citizen of a country to live there. Many countries allow citizens of other states to enter and stay on their territory without a visa. The list of countries you can travel to visa-free depends on your passport’s country. For example, Russians can travel to 118 countries without a visa. The leader in visa-free destinations is Japan, whose citizens can visit 193 countries without a visa.

If there is no visa-free agreement, you will need a document or status depending on the purpose of your trip and the length of stay:

  • Visa
  • Residence Permit
  • Permanent Residence

Next, we’ll explain each option in more detail.


A visa is a permit that allows you to temporarily enter a country for specific purposes such as study, work, tourism, medical treatment, and more. Visa types vary based on duration and the number of permitted entries:

Short-term Visa (Type C): Suitable for short trips up to 90 days within a 180-day period. It can be single-entry, allowing one entry, or multiple-entry, allowing several entries within the visa validity period.

Long-term Visa (Type D): Issued for stays longer than 90 days, such as for work or family reunification. Typically issued for periods ranging from 3 months to 1 year, and sometimes up to 5 years. It can also be extended according to local laws.

Choosing the right visa depends on various factors such as the purpose of your visit, professional status, age, family situation, and financial conditions.

Main Types of Visas:

  • Tourist Visa: For tourism and leisure. Usually short-term.
  • Work Visa: For those planning to work in the country. Requires a job offer from a local employer.
  • Student Visa: For students enrolled in foreign educational institutions, requiring confirmation from the institution.
  • Investor Visa: For foreign investors and entrepreneurs planning to start a business and invest in the country’s economy.
  • Family Visa: For relatives of citizens or permanent residents. These visas can be issued to close family members.
  • Research Visa: For scientists or researchers participating in scientific projects or academic exchanges.
  • Transit Visa: For travelers passing through a country. Usually valid for a very short time.

Specialized Types of Visas:

  • Medical Treatment Visa: For those seeking medical care unavailable in their home country.
  • Volunteer Visa: For participation in volunteer programs, requiring confirmation from the host organization.
  • Journalist Visa: For media representatives creating reports.
  • Religious Worker Visa: For participation in religious activities or missionary projects.
  • Retirement Visa: For retirees wanting to move after finishing their career. Requires proof of financial independence.

Visa rights and restrictions depend on the visa type and destination country. Check detailed visa conditions from official sources or immigration consultants. Non-compliance can lead to consequences:

  • Visa Cancellation: For violating conditions, e.g., working on a tourist visa.
  • Fines and Penalties: Financial penalties may be imposed.
  • Deportation: For serious violations like illegal work or false information, you may be deported.
  • Entry Ban: After deportation or serious violations, you might be banned from entering the country for a period or indefinitely.
  • Future Visa Issues: Violation history can cause problems in obtaining new visas, and other countries might consider this in your applications.

Residence Permit:

A residence permit allows a foreigner to legally live in a country for a medium to long-term period. This status is not permanent and is usually issued for several years with the possibility of renewal under certain conditions. It offers more rights than a regular visa.

What Does a Residence Permit Provide?

  1. Permission to Live: You can legally live in the country during its validity.
  2. Right to Work: In most countries, you can work with a residence permit, though additional permits might be needed.
  3. Education: You can study in local educational institutions on par with citizens.
  4. Social Services: Access to social, medical, and other government services.
  5. Freedom of Movement: You can freely enter and exit the country without losing status.
  6. Business Activities: You can start your business in the country.
  7. Property Purchase: Some countries restrict property purchases without residency; a residence permit lifts these restrictions.
  8. Path to Permanent Residency and Citizenship: Long-term residence with a permit can be a basis for obtaining permanent residency or citizenship.

Permanent Residency:

Permanent residency allows a foreigner to live legally in a country indefinitely. This status usually follows a residence permit and is very close to full residency, though it may not include some civil rights.

What Does Permanent Residency Provide?

  1. Permanent Living: Permanent residents can live in the country without needing to renew documents regularly.
  2. Work: Usually, no work permits are needed.
  3. Social Benefits and Services: Right to social support, education, pensions, medical care, and other government services on par with citizens.
  4. Path to Citizenship: Permanent residency is often a prerequisite for applying for citizenship.

Restrictions of Permanent Residency:

  • Traveling Abroad: Long absences can lead to the cancellation of permanent residency.
  • Political Participation: Permanent residents typically cannot vote in elections.

Each country has its own rules and procedures for obtaining these statuses, and they can differ significantly. For example, in Germany, students arriving on a student visa must apply for a residence permit after arrival and settlement. It’s important to thoroughly study the requirements and procedures of the chosen country for successful and legal relocation.

How to Transition from a Residence Permit to Permanent Residency?

The transition from a residence permit to permanent residency can vary depending on the country, but here are some common principles and conditions:

Conditions for Transitioning from Residence Permit to Permanent Residency

  • Length of Stay: Typically, to apply for permanent residency, you need to have lived in the country on a residence permit for a certain period, often between 3 to 5 years.
  • Compliance with the Law: You must prove that you have not violated immigration laws or committed any serious legal offenses during your stay.
  • Financial Stability: Applicants must demonstrate a stable source of income sufficient to live in the country without needing state support.
  • Integration: Some countries require proof of integration into society, which may include language proficiency and understanding of the country’s laws.
  • Health: A medical certificate confirming the absence of serious illnesses may be required.


Citizenship is a status that grants full membership in a country, along with specific rights and obligations.

What Does Citizenship Provide?

  1. Political Rights: The ability to vote in elections, participate in public life, and hold public office.
  2. State Protection: Protection from your country, including consular support abroad.
  3. Right to Live and Work: Unlimited right to live and work in the country without restrictions.
  4. Social Benefits: Access to social security, healthcare, education, and other government services, often more extensive than for non-citizens.
  5. Right to Pass on Citizenship: The ability to pass citizenship to your children.
  6. Freedom of Movement: Citizenship often simplifies international travel as citizens are issued passports that allow visa-free entry to many countries.

How to Obtain Citizenship?

  • By Birth: Automatically, based on your place of birth or your parents’ nationality.
  • Through Naturalization: After fulfilling conditions such as long-term residence, language proficiency, and economic activity or integration into society.
  • Through Marriage: With a citizen of the country.

Citizenship grants an individual all rights in the country but also comes with responsibilities, such as paying taxes, obeying laws, and sometimes mandatory military service.

What is Dual Citizenship?

Dual citizenship is a status where a person is a citizen of two countries simultaneously. This can occur automatically, for example, by being born to parents of different nationalities, or through the naturalization process when one acquires new citizenship without renouncing their original one.

What Does Dual Citizenship Provide?

The same rights as single citizenship but in two countries.

Obligations of Dual Citizenship:

  1. Paying Taxes: Some countries, like the USA, require their citizens to pay taxes on global income regardless of where they live. This may mean filing tax returns in both countries.
  2. Military Service: Possible obligation to serve in the military of both countries, depending on their laws.

How to Transition from Permanent Residency to Citizenship?

The transition from permanent residency to citizenship is usually called naturalization. The process and requirements can vary significantly depending on the country’s legislation, but there are some common conditions:

Conditions for Naturalization:

  1. Residency: Long-term residence in the country where you want to obtain citizenship, often from 3 to 5 years with permanent residency status.
  2. Language Requirements: Proficiency in the official language of the country is often mandatory. You may need to pass a language exam.
  3. Integration into Society: Proof of integration into society, which may include participation in social life, understanding the country’s culture and history. Sometimes a civic knowledge exam is required.
  4. Economic Activity: Proof of your ability to support yourself and your family financially without state benefits.
  5. Clean Criminal Record: A clean criminal history is usually a necessary condition for naturalization.

❓Where would you like to move and why? What is most important to you when choosing a new country to live in?

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