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Relocating to a foreign country can be one of the most exhilarating and rewarding life experiences.

The excitement of a fresh start coupled with new and wondrous surroundings is momentous, but moving abroad comes with a long list of things to consider.

One of the biggest is whether you become a resident or apply for citizenship. But what is the difference between the two?

Andrew Taylor, Vice Chairman of Henley & Partners, the global leaders in Residence and Citizenship Planning, says there are very clear distinctions:

“Citizenship is the relationship between an individual and a state, defined by the laws of that state and its corresponding duties and rights. This typically includes the right to vote, work, live, study and return to the country. Citizens are entitled to hold a passport of their country, their status is for life and under normal circumstances cannot be revoked.

“Residence permits allow the holders to live in another country, while still holding their current citizenship and passport. Holders of residence permits are generally not allowed to vote in their country of residence and if in conflict with the law, they could face deportation. ”

“Residence permits are normally limited in time and holders must meet a variety of requirements to maintain their status, usually including a period of physical residence. Most countries offering residence programs are seeking people to become tax payers in their country and contribute to the economy.”

Taylor says when deciding on a new home overseas you need to consider what is important to you and your family; the “must haves”, and what you could do without. This means investigating areas such as schooling and healthcare infrastructure, employment or business opportunities, transport infrastructure, general safety, and of course – the country’s overall economic climate and outlook.

“The decision to move to another country must not be taken lightly as there are many factors that will affect an individual and their family. I recommend that anyone considering a new place of residence abroad undertake a thorough analysis of the country or countries they are considering,” says Taylor.

Most affluent families that enjoy living in their home country but consider the option relocate as valuable to them, their children, or future grandchildren, choose citizenship by investment programs in Europe – mainly as you acquire the right to live, work, and study anywhere in the 28 European member states.

Therefore if your mind has not been made yet, the possibility of holding dual nationality that provides this level of options is possible with some citizenship by investment programs, and in 2015 particularly the program in Malta.

If you are considering this or relocation, the following destinations are worth considering:

An investor’s dream destination

Malta is a beautiful place to call home, not only for its warm climate, but for its rich culture and heritage. Citizenship of this Mediterranean island can be achieved through the Malta Individual Investor Programme (IIP), designed and implemented by Henley & Partners after they were awarded a Public Services Concession in 2013 by competitive tender. The Malta IIP is aimed at high net worth individuals and families worldwide.

Being granted citizenship of Malta, a European Union (EU) Member State that is stable, neutral and highly respected, offers many opportunities including the right to live, work, and gain access to education and healthcare within the 28 EU countries.

The Malta IIP also has an efficient application process, and the world’s strictest due diligence standards and vetting of applicants, thus ensuring only highly respectable clients will be admitted.

A significant contribution to the National Development and Social Fund is required, as well as due diligence fees and commitment to retain a residence in Malta for at least five years. Through the Malta IIP, full citizenship is for life and can be passed on to future generations by descent.

On the continent and in the sun

Portugal is a dream destination, with sunshine and pristine beaches in abundance. Permanent residence status comes with the perks of having access to an excellent healthcare service and the world’s best golf courses. Also, being a full EU member since 1986 and a part of the Schengen Agreement since 2002, permanent residence gives with visa-free travel across Europe.

Permanent Residence can be achieved through the Golden Residence Permit Program, also known as the “Golden Visa”, which allows people from outside the EU to acquire residence in Portugal by making a qualifying investment of at least 500 000 euros.

Kick starting your career to success

Keen to invite highly qualified professionals to the island, Singapore has made the move easy with some great benefits for permanent residents – from government-subsidised clinics and lower school fees to the option of purchasing public housing apartments.

Singapore is very strict about their single citizenship policy and also requires male citizens to undertake national service requirements, which must be taken into consideration if you apply for residence with the aim of eventually becoming a citizen.

The home of the free

The United States of America is the world’s third largest country by landmass, if you include coastal and island territories. By becoming a permanent resident (or Green Card Holder) you are allowed to settle anywhere within its borders from Alaska to Florida.

For those who wish to acquire residence by investment, one must invest at least $500 000 in a government-approved project and several other conditions apply.

However, Henley & Partners advises that “green card” status might be worth avoiding due to the US’s global taxation laws that come with it.

“However, a simple long-term visitor’s visa may be the appropriate solution if you would like to spend a certain amount of time in the US but not become subject to worldwide taxation.”

This article was originally published on iAfrica.com.

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