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Permanent residency refers to a person's visa status: the person is allowed to reside indefinitely within a country despite not having citizenship. A person with such status is known as a permanent resident.

Countries with permanent residency systems

Not every country has a facility for someone to be a 'permanent resident'. All European Union countries have a facility for someone to become a permanent resident though, as EU legislation allows for an EU national that moves to another EU country to attain permanent resident status after residing there for five years. Other countries have varying forms of such residency and relationships with other countries with regards to this status.

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

Rights of permanent residents

Depending on the country, permanent residents usually have the same rights as citizens except for the following:
  • they may not vote (some countries allow this, e.g. New Zealandmarker)
  • they may not stand for public office
  • they may not apply for public sector employment (some countries allow this (eg. Canadamarker); some countries only allow this for permanent residents holding citizenship of another country of shared heritage )
  • they may not apply for employment involving national security (some countries allow this ) (In Singapore, however, male PRs have to undergo compulsory military service, unless they are granted PR under Technical and Skill Workers Migration Scheme. For example a first generation male, granted permanent residence by marrying a citizen, still ought to serve NS. )
  • they may not own certain classes of real estate
  • they are not issued the passport of that country
  • they do not have access the country's consular protection (some countries allow this )

Obligations of permanent residents

Permanent residents may be required to fulfill specific residence obligations to retain 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.

In a similar vein, 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.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).

Loss of status

Permanent residents may lose their status if they fail to comply with residency or other obligations imposed on them. For example:
  • they leave the country beyond a maximum number of days (varies among countries but usually more than 2 years)
  • they become threat to national security or they commit serious crimes so as they may be subject to deportation or removal from the country

Access to citizenship

Usually permanent residents may apply for citizenship by naturalisation after a period of residency 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 resulting in individuals that are not in danger of being deported but may not proceed to citizenship. In the United States, the residency requirements for citizenship are normally five years, even though permanent residents that 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.

Automatic entitlement

Full permanent residence rights are granted automatically between:
  • Ireland and the United Kingdom
  • the states of the Nordic Council
  • Russian Federationmarker and Republic of Belarusmarker have significant rights of residence in each other's nations except voting (but with an exception) and consular protection but Russia provides it in some countries if embassy of Belarus does not exist.

Rights conferred under the European Union Treaties do not extend to full permanent residence, but in practice there is little difference.

Australian and New Zealand citizens have significant rights of residence in each other's nations under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement.

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 would merely stamp 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 (known in the United Statesmarker as a "green card") or would issue a visa sticker in the person's passport or present them with letter to indicate their permanent resident status.

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

In Canada, permanent residents are issued a photo ID card known as PR Card or Maple Leaf Card.

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

In Singapore, permanent residents are issued a blue identity card with their photograph, thumb print and other personal particulars.

In Switzerland, permanent residents are issued a yellow ID.

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 Kingdom, an Indefinite Leave to Remain sticker is on applicant's passport.

Loss of the identification document and/or the possession of a stolen document are major crimes in many countries.


  1. Finnish Immigration Service: Fact Sheet:Redidence permit for Finland Other than EU/EAA citizen (pdf)
  2. [1]
  3. UDI:Settlement permit
  4. Permit C (settlement permit) - Federal Office for Migration
  5. 歡迎光臨-內政部入出國及移民署全球資訊網
  6. "Are illegal alien males required to register?," Selective Service System: Registration Information (accessed August 14, 2006)
  7. General Naturalization Requirements

See also

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