It’s not unusual for citizens of one nation to live in a different one for varying periods of time. Some spend part of the year offshore, then return to their home country for the remaining months. If you’re planning on doing so, you’re going to need a residence visa.
There’s also the possibility that they retain their citizenship but live permanently in another nation. This is made possible by acquiring what’s known as a residence visa. You’ll find that securing a residence visa will involve different processes in various nations. Even so, certain requirements apply regardless of the country.
Here are tips to help you decide if getting a resident visa is right for you and how to proceed.
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Understand What’s Meant by a Residence Visa
Begin by understanding the difference between a tourist visa and the two most common kinds of residence visas. A tourist visa is much like it sounds. It allows you entry into a nation and provides you with what’s needed to travel freely within that country. However, you don’t have the rights and privileges extended to residents or citizens to operate a business or own property.
A temporary residence visa broadens what you can do while in a nation. In many cases, you can purchase property, obtain employment, and otherwise participate in many ways that citizens do. What you cannot do is vote, hold public office, or anything else reserved for citizens only.
How long can you stay in the country with a temporary residence visa? It depends on the laws within that nation. You may be able to stay anywhere between six months to a couple of years. In most cases, leaving the nation for a week or two, then applying for a new temporary residence visa after entering as a tourist again will allow you to begin the process anew.
A permanent residence visa allows you to remain in the nation indefinitely. People generally become eligible for this visa after staying in the country for at least five years. You retain your original citizenship and do not gain voting privileges in the country where you reside. What’s eliminated is the need to leave and then return periodically. This is especially important if you want to expand to another country; with a resident visa you’ll be able to establish a business in Mexico, or register a branch in Australia.
Learn About Resident Visa Requirements in Different Nations
The requirements for obtaining a residence visa of any kind will vary from one nation to the next. Generally speaking, you need a steady and verifiable source of income that meets or exceeds the minimum set by that nation. If the plan is to seek a temporary residence visa, some nations may require that you already have employment lined up.
Beyond that, you should be aware of any financial obligations that may apply as long as you remain in the country. That may include sums that must be paid when you’re granted the visa or be due when you submit the application. Many nations provide information to interested parties in advance. This allows you to review all the requirements and ensure that you meet them before applying.
Spend Time in the Nation Before Seeking Residence
It’s a good idea to spend ample time in any nation you’re considering before applying for any residence visa. Visit as a tourist and look around the country. Visit different cities and towns and see what you think about each. The goal is to determine if the culture, resources, weather, and other characteristics make the country an ideal place to live.
This is also an excellent time to get to know the banking system within that nation. You can learn more about setting up offshore accounts ranging from basic checking accounts to time deposit accounts, and even what sort of offshore mortgage loans you could obtain. All that information will come in handy later.
Be Aware of Fees and Investments Involved
One of the factors that will influence your decision is the fee required to become a resident. In some nations, there’s a flat fee that you pay at the time you seek the residence visa. That fee recurs once the term expires if you want to remain in the country.
If you’re seeking a permanent residence visa, then there may still be a fee that applies. It may be called an investment. This is, in effect, a flat fee that is due annually. There may also be the potential to obtain a permanent residence visa if you buy real estate within that nation.
Before selecting where to live, make sure you understand all financial obligations involved, including any fees or investments that may be due over time. This will ensure that unanticipated financial requirements do not complicate your residence.
Wait After Submitting the Application
How long will you wait before finding out if your residence application is accepted? That varies based on the type of residence visa you seek, how you enter the country, and when the application is made.
You may find that the most practical solution is to enter the country as a tourist using your passport. Once in the nation, you can apply for a temporary residence visa and often receive one well before a tourist would have to depart. If you already have a residence visa and meet the qualifications for a permanent residence visa, it’s often a good idea to apply at least six months before the temporary one expires. To be safe, consider applying a year in advance for your permanent visa.
Some nations allow you to obtain temporary residence visas upon arrival. That’s true in Mexico if you arrive by airliner. Providing proof of identity, paying a fee, and signing a document allows you to receive the visa. Visiting a Consular Office will be necessary if you enter the country by ground transportation or wish to seek a permanent residence visa.
Renew Your Residence Visa
If you have a temporary resident visa, it will remain in effect for whatever time frame is allowed by the nation’s laws. This can vary from six months to several years. At that point, you may be required to exit the country for a short time, then return and renew your visa.
Once you obtain a permanent residence visa, you’ll need to pay any fees or other requirements by the dates set by the government. As long as you do so, there’s no danger of being asked to leave the country or incurring any late fees or penalties.
Pave the Way for Citizenship
Perhaps your plans involve living offshore for part of the year or possibly retiring to that location and living there permanently. There are no plans to give up your citizenship. However, things may change over time. Be aware that having a permanent residence visa often paves the way for seeking citizenship.
Generally, you will become eligible for citizenship after living in the country for a specified time. That can be anywhere between three and five years. The good news is that many nations begin the count when you apply for your first residence visa.
If both nations allow dual citizenship, there’s no need to renounce anything. You can remain a citizen of your home country while gaining citizenship in the nation where you live. An immigration expert can tell you more about this possibility and how to pursue it
Establish Access to Offshore Funds
Remember that once you secure your residence visa, it’s beneficial to have a financial institution that can meet all your needs. You’ll find that certain offshore banks provide expats with exceptional banking services while abroad.
Biz Latin Hub can help you with acquiring a Residence Visa
At Biz Latin Hub, we provide integrated market entry and back-office services throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, with offices in Panama City, Sao Paulo, as well as over a dozen other major cities in the region. We also have trusted partners in many other markets.
Our unrivaled reach means we are ideally placed to support multi-jurisdiction market entries and cross border operations.
As well as knowledge about Residence Visas, our portfolio of services includes hiring & PEO, accounting & taxation, company formation, visa services, bank account opening, and corporate legal services.
Contact us today to find out more about how we can assist you in finding top talent, or otherwise do business in Latin America and the Caribbean.
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