What is the Difference Between Permanent Residency and Citizenship? Complete Details

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Difference Between Permanent Residency and Citizenship

There are some significant differences between permanent residency and citizenship. Sometimes people use the terms interchangeably, but they are not the same. Permanent residency gives you legal permission to live in a country for a long period of time, and you can often work and study there. Still, it doesn’t give you the full rights of citizenship, such as voting or holding public office. On the other hand, citizenship is the highest legal status, it means you are a full part of the country and have all of its rights and responsibilities. Keep reading, if you want to learn more about permanent residency and citizenship.

What is Permanent Residency?

Permanent residency is a legal status granted to foreign nationals by a country that allows them to stay in the country indefinitely. It’s essentially a step between a temporary visa and full citizenship. Here’s a breakdown of the most important characteristics of permanent residency.

Rights and Benefits

  • Permanent residents can live and work freely in the host country, typically without needing additional permits.
  • They are usually entitled to various social programmes like healthcare, education, and social security (depending on the country).
  • Permanent residents can travel freely in and out of the host country, but maintaining residency requirements (like spending a certain amount of time there each year) is important.


There are several ways to qualify for permanent residency, including.

  • Many countries let skilled workers stay there permanently if they meet certain job requirements.
  • Family members of citizens or permanent residents may be eligible for sponsorship.
  • Some governments let people stay there permanently if they spend a lot of money.
  • Individuals who are given refugee status may be able to find a way to become permanent residents.

Maintaining Permanent Residency

Permanent residency usually comes with many requirements to maintain the status. These may include.

  • Most countries require people who live there permanently to spend at least some time in the country every year.
  • Having a criminal record or breaching immigration laws can break permanent residency.
  • Permanent residents are required to pay taxes like citizens.

Overall, permanent residency is a way to live and work in a new country for a long time. It has many of the same benefits as citizenship, but not all of its rights and duties.

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What is Citizenship?

Citizenship means the legal status of being a full member of a particular country. It signifies the formal bond between an individual and a state, giving them certain rights and responsibilities. Here’s a closer look at the key aspects of citizenship.

Rights and Benefits

  • Citizens have the right to vote in elections and hold public office.
  • The country is obligated to protect its citizens both within its borders and abroad.
  • Citizens are typically entitled to social programmes like public healthcare, education, and social security, depending on the country.
  • Citizens can freely live and work anywhere in their country without restrictions.


  • Birthright citizenship is automatically given to anyone born in the country, no matter what national status their parents have.
  • Based on family, a child is immediately a citizen if at least one parent is a citizen.
  • The process by which a foreign national becomes a citizen by meeting specific requirements, such as living in the country for a certain amount of time, taking a language or civics test, and showing that they are a good person.

Maintaining Citizenship

Most of the time, losing citizenship is not easy, but some countries may do it for crimes like treason and spying.

In general, citizenship is the most important legal position in a country. It comes with a lot of rights and responsibilities that affect how a person interacts with the government.

What is the Difference Between Permanent Residency and Citizenship?

Here’s a comparison between Permanent Residency and Citizenship.

ParticularsPermanent ResidencyCitizenship
Legal StatusResident with the indefinite right to live and workFull member of the country with all rights
Right to StayCan stay indefinitelyCan stay indefinitely
Work RightsGenerally allowed to work, subject to conditionsAllowed to work without restrictions
Travel RightsMay have travel restrictionsFreely travel with a passport of the country
Voting RightsUsually cannot vote in national electionsCan vote in national elections
Citizenship RightsNot entitled to citizenship rightsEntitled to all citizenship rights
PassportNot entitled to the country’s passportEntitled to the country’s passport
ResponsibilitiesExpected to obey laws and pay taxesSame as permanent residents, plus other duties and responsibilities like jury duty, military service (if applicable)
RevocationCan lose PR status if conditions not metCitizenship can be revoked under certain circumstances, but rare
Dual CitizenshipMay or may not be allowed depending on the country’s lawsTypically allows for dual citizenship, but check the country’s laws
Immigration BenefitsMay have easier access to immigration in other countriesOften granted preferential treatment in immigration to other countries

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Are Citizenship and PR the same?

You have to be a constant resident for a certain amount of time, pass a citizenship test, meet residency standards, and keep your morals high to become a citizen.

What is the difference between a citizen and a resident?

A citizen usually refers to someone who legally lives or works in a certain area, while a resident usually refers to someone who legally belongs to a certain country.

How to convert PR to citizenship?

If you have been a permanent resident for 12 months, you can apply for Australian citizenship. You must have lived in Australia for four years with any type of visa and five years as a permanent resident.

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