March 22, 2024
Residency by investment programs

Permanent Residency vs Citizenship: Key Differences and Benefits

If you are considering moving to another country to live you have probably thought about applying for citizenship or residency. Just what is the difference between the two? In this article, we will cover everything you need to know when evaluating: 

  • The differences between citizenship and residency
  • Which countries offer citizenship and permanent residency
  • Which choice best suits your interests

Permanent Residency

Simply put, residency gives one the right to live and work in a host country for a specified time. Residency is common for those seeking work, opening a business, or seeking to become citizens. Residency comes in different levels. In the United States, a “green card” allows for permanent residency as long as one complies with the conditions, while in other countries residency is only given for an indefinite time, such as the 10 year Golden Visa of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates

Being given residency vs citizenship has its benefits. You can enjoy the many benefits citizens have with fewer obligations. By attaining residency by investment, you and your family can enjoy visa-free travel, quality healthcare, and the freedom to conduct business. Being free from obligations like military service and reporting all income to the state are also benefits of having residency vs citizenship in some countries. 

Getting residency can be the first step to obtaining a passport when getting citizenship by investment is not an option. Many countries offer citizenship to law-abiding residents who have stayed their allotted time to qualify, mostly known as citizenship by naturalization.

Citizenship: Beyond Residency

A citizen is a member of a country who can participate in government elections, benefit from social services, and hold a travel document, better known as a passport. Many people are born citizens or become one through residency, birthright, or investment. There is a symbiotic relationship between a country and its citizens. A country is obligated to serve its citizens and citizens pledge to serve their country through military service, paying taxes, and fulfilling other civic duties. 

Being a citizen vs a resident of a country is not only more beneficial while living and working in the country but when traveling as well. Thanks to diplomatic relations, many countries offer visa-free travel to different foreign countries, each with their travel restrictions. 

Key Differences: Permanent Residency and Citizenship

Time Frame

Both permanent residents and citizens can enjoy living in a country indefinitely while regular residents may have to renew their right to live and work in the country. 

Physical Presence

One of the great benefits of citizenship and residency is obtaining visa-free travel to other countries. Citizens can travel without any worry because of their permanent status as citizens while residents may have to adhere to stricter travel rules and limitations.

Social Services

Many countries that offer healthcare to their citizens also provide it for their residents. Some social services like Social Security, aid in employment, and subsidies are only available to citizens. 

Family Inclusion

In many countries, citizenship is passed onto children and spouses can easily apply for citizenship. However, a major difference between residency and citizenship is that even permanent residents can not extend their benefits and status to their families easily. 

3 Countries Offering Citizenship by Investment Programs

Saint Lucia 

Saint Lucia, located in the Caribbean islands, is a hot tourist destination and holds an attractive passport with a very attractive rule. You never have to actually visit Saint Lucia to obtain a passport. All you need for aSaint Lucian passport is to invest $100,000 into their National Economic Fund or $300,000 into property. This process can be done as quickly as 4 months, making it the quickest country to get citizenship through investment. Consider learning more about the program to see if this Caribbean paradise is a viable option for you.  


Austria being an economic powerhouse in the European Union has a unique process for citizenship through investment for good reason. In order to become a citizen of one of the world’s safest countries you need to take active investment in the country’s economy through large sums and therefore be selected as a person of extraordinary merit by Austria's cabinet of Minister. 

Citizenship through investment for Austria is not clear cut like other countries with government programs to invest minimum amounts into for a clear path. Consider working with a professional for guidance on how to become a citizen of Austria through investment


Malta is not just a beautiful tourist destination but has a booming financial center. According to the International Trade Commission, Malta has gained international recognition as a world-class center that has attracted blue chip banks, fund managers, investment houses, and professional practices from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, among others.

As investors flock towards this safe and stable country, consider obtaining Malta’s citizenship by investment. Mirabello Consultancy can guide you through the entire process, ensuring everything is sent on time and that you meet all requirements. 

3 Countries Offering Residency by Investment Programs


Home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, Greece’s Golden Visa permanent residency program is highly sought after thanks to its affordable investment requirements and a fair share of benefits. The Golden Visa allows residents to travel visa-free in the Schengen area without being an EU citizen. Greece does not even require you to reside in the country to keep your residency status. Greece is one of the few countries that offers benefits to residents vs citizens, like residency status extending to your spouse and dependable children, ease of travel, and the opportunity to buy property. After 7 years of holding a Golden Visa, one can apply for full citizenship to enjoy everything Greece has to offer. 

With a simple Real Estate investment of 250,000 euros in a property you qualify for a Golden Visa, Greece also has a variety of investment options that you can explore with a professional agency.  

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is quickly becoming one of the top financial capitals in the world. With a blossoming banking environment, flexible financial laws, and an ever-growing demand for skilled professionals, the UAE is becoming an attractive destination for business, work, and living. 

The UAE offers a variety of options for those who wish to reside for different periods of time and business. Residency through investment starts at about 750,00 AED (204,000 USD) for individuals seeking a two year residency and for 10 years it can go upwards to 2,000,000 AED (550,000 USD). If you want further information on the programs and benefits of residency through investment in the United Arab Emirates get in contact with an agent. 

United States of America

The United States of America needs no introduction. Known as the country of immigrants, many try to migrate to the USA for better opportunities. One ticket to the American Dream is applying for residency by investment (EB-5). For an economic powerhouse like the United States of America, there is a considerably low barrier of entry at only 900,000 USD. While the benefits of citizens vs residents can vary from state to state, some benefits of residents include the right to work and public education for children.

Learn more about how investment through real estate can open up the opportunity for a Green Card and a chance to become a citizen. 

Choosing the Right Path: Factors to Consider for Citizenship vs Residency

When looking to obtain citizenship or residency through investment the first course of action should be to be realistic about a budget. The minimum expected amount of investment needed varies from country to country so it is important to know how much money you can put upfront and over time without expecting returns for a long time. Some residency programs are more affordable and do not require immediate upfront investment while some citizenship programs require immediate investment but offer programs that offer serious returns on something other than real estate. 

Depending on what country you already hold citizenship for, some countries do not offer dual citizenship which would require you to seek permanent residence or abandon your citizenship for a new one. Some countries that you also seek citizenship for do not allow a second passport so it is important to consider which passport would serve you best. 

For those seeking countries with attractive tax laws, it is important to know what residents are expected to pay compared to citizens. Depending on the laws of the country, the difference between citizens and residents may be significant enough to encourage people to stay as residents to avoid paying more taxes. 

Those with families have to consider if their status can extend to their loved ones and how much it affects investment levels. It is also important to make sure that social services like healthcare can be used to make sure your family will be insured in case of a medical emergency. 

How to choose which type is a good fit for you?

The first thing that you should be certain of is why you want a second citizenship or residency. Whether you are looking for new business opportunities, a change in scenery, a more powerful passport for travel, or a place with more attractive tax laws, it is important to get your priorities in order. 

Once you determine what you are looking for the next step would be to read about what different opportunities different countries offer that best align with your interests and capabilities. A good place to start would be to get in touch with a professional agency that specializes in citizenship or residency through investment.



Does a green card make you a citizen?

A United States Green Card does not automatically make you a citizen but offers permanent residency. After five years of being a lawful permanent resident, one can apply to become a citizen of the United States of America. A lawful permanent resident is one who has legal status in the United States and has not been found guilty of breaking any laws. One difference between citizenship and permanent residency is that a citizen can not be deported while a permanent resident can. 

Can you live in another country without citizenship?

Many countries offer visas to those who want to visit or temporarily reside in their country but obtaining residency is much more complicated. To live in a country with permanent residency or citizenship requires investment into the country and sometimes even years to process approval. The best way to learn more about obtaining permanent residency is to consult a professional agency

Is nationality the same as residence?

The terms nationality, citizenship, and residence are often conflated but citizenship dictates what nation you are a legal entity of while nationality is simply what country one was born in. Residence is what country you are simply registered as living in. Each term is independent of the other as you can have a separate nationality, residency, and citizenship. 


It is important to inform oneself when deciding as to what country to apply to for citizenship or permanent residency. There are a variety of options ranging from straightforward passive investments to active large ones with varying benefits. 

One of the best ways to get a clear picture of what options best suit you is to consult a professional agency that specializes in permanent residency and citizenship through investment.


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