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Moving Abroad Permanently vs. Temporarily: How Are They Different?

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Moving abroad for now, or for good?

For most people in the world, it is not easy to move abroad permanently, right away.

They need to start with a temporary visa first.

Moving Abroad Permanently vs. Temporarily: How Are They Different?

1. What is a temporary visa?

  • A temporary visa is a visa that allows you to live in your destination country for a specific period of TIME, for a specific PURPOSE (e.g. work, study, spouse, retirement, etc.).
  • A temporary visa can last anywhere from a few months to a few years, after which you can renew it, or apply for a different visa for a different purpose.
  • A temporary visa is easier to get, relatively speaking, when compared to a permanent visa.

2. To move abroad permanently, you need to become a permanent resident or a citizen

What is a permanent resident and how do you become one? 👇

A permanent resident has the right to live, study, and work in a country on a permanent basis. In the United States 🇺🇸 for example, permanent residents are known as green card holders.

A permanent resident has most of the rights and responsibilities that citizens have, such as the right to live in the country permanently, the right to receive full access to social services, and the responsibility to pay taxes (under usual circumstances). Depending on the country, they may or may not be allowed to vote.

3. To become a permanent resident, you often need a temporary visa first

There are several ways to become a permanent resident in your destination country. Some countries use a point system to score an applicant in a holistic manner based on various factors, like age, work experience, education, how well they know the official language(s) of the country, and so on.

Some countries grant permanent residency based on one or more of the following factors:

  • By living in the country on a temporary visa for a specific number of years to qualify
  • By showing social ties to the country through marriage or having children
  • By investing money in the country
  • By showing that you can hold a job or have an income, and/or wouldn't be a net burden to the government

4. To become a citizen of another country, you often need to become a temporary or permanent resident first

In most cases, you can become a citizen of another country only after living there for a specific number of years as a temporary or permanent resident.

So the conclusion is: To move abroad permanently, you would most likely need a temporary visa first.

However, like many things in life, there are exceptions where you can move permanently without a temporary visa. Examples:

  • You have dual citizenship.
  • You live in a country with a freedom of movement agreement with another country.
  • If you have enough money, you can essentially pay or invest a sum of money in your destination country to receive permanent residency or citizenship right away.
  • You can also claim citizenship right away if you have ancestors from certain countries.

Want to Move Abroad?

Learn about the cons of moving abroad, and how to get a visa if you think moving is right for you. More about this here.