What to pay attention to if you are planning to move to another country
“Don’t confuse tourism with immigration” is probably the most common advice that people who have just arrived in a new country hear from long-time immigrants. Indeed, in practice, when forming an impression of a particular country, we first of all pay attention to its beauty, level of service, everyday amenities, work opportunities and other similar things. Most often, we evaluate a new place emotionally, but emotions for the most part are a bad adviser when you need to make a serious decision about choosing a country for a real, fulfilling life. We list just a few points that you need to pay attention to when making decisions about moving.
How to become a citizen
If you plan to become a citizen of a new country in the future, first of all you need to thoroughly study not only grounds for obtaining a residence permit, but also to check whether they subsequently guarantee the right to obtain permanent resident status with access to the opportunity to acquire citizenship. Even if the answer to this question is yes, it would be a good idea to carefully consider procedure and deadlines for receiving it, those privileges that the documents of a particular country provide, and the restrictions that exist before obtaining its citizenship. A situation may well arise that you realize too late that you are not ready to wait 8 or 10 years before becoming a citizen of the chosen country.
For example, in the United States there is no concept of a residence permit, that is, a temporary residence permit, recognized in Europe. You can stay on certain types of visas as long as you like, but they themselves do not convert to permanent resident status, that is, they are not grounds for obtaining a green card. In order to receive it, you need additional terms: the employer who will initiate this procedure for you; US citizen spouse, and so on. In this case, the period of residence before receiving a green card does not count towards citizenship.
Another disadvantage of the United States is the lack of statutory deadlines for the consideration of certain categories of cases. For example, persons who have applied for political asylum, sometimes you have to wait 8–10 years for your turn, and there are practically no legal opportunities to speed up this process.
Also, “to be on the safe side”, you can look at messages on forums and in thematic chats on the topic of how often in a certain country the deadlines for consideration of certain cases are violated, even if they are defined by law, and most importantly - how accessible the remedies are in this case and how effective procedure for challenging certain decisions of officials.
The second most important point, perhaps even more priority than the first, is to study the practice of how widespread cases of arbitrary acts are in the selected country. refusals to provide a residence permit, which are not related to the applicant’s violation of the procedures provided for by law. For example, recently in countries fearing a deterioration in relations with Russia (such as Kazakhstan, Georgia or Serbia), there have been frequent cases of refusal of residence permits to Russians for their oppositional political views. Conversely, in some countries, the mere presence of Russian citizenship is the basis for refusal.
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By the way, if we are talking about the arbitrariness of specific officials, it is important to ask lawyers whether the country’s legislation provides for liability for violators. For example, a number of experts attribute it to this factor that, for example, in the United States the percentage of violations of the rights of immigrants is higher than in Western Europe. This is especially true for immigrants who enter the country without a visa and then apply for asylum. In the US, as in Europe, you can challenge the decision of officials in an independent court, and cases when the court sides with the applicant are not at all rare. A judge may order the offending official to perform certain actions, but, as a rule, no punishment follows for the previous unlawful actions of the official. It is logical that such impunity stimulates new abuses.
Taxes, medicine and language
The third point that is important to pay attention to concerns tax issues. In case you want to maintain relations with your home country and travel home periodically, it is important to check what tax treaties exist between countries. This also includes issues of accessibility and quality of medicine, health insurance and so on.
Fourthly, most people may think that if the selected state is part of the European Union, the procedures and restrictions existing on its territory are common to the entire Union. However, individual countries may have their own specific legal or religious traditions or other national characteristics that may affect your life or even your immigration status.
For example, abortion is prohibited in Catholic Poland, and terminating a pregnancy is illegal in that country. Poles also take issues of marriage and family very seriously. I know of a case where a married couple, married for decades, could not obtain a residence permit because the Polish court required the wife to confirm that her previous husband did not object to their divorce.
After so many years, the woman no longer had the opportunity to contact her ex-husband, and just a document on the dissolution of the previous marriage was not enough for the Poles. As a result, the Polish court organized a formal process to dissolve the previous marriage. The ex-husband was no longer present, but a representative appointed by the Polish side spoke on his behalf. Having gone through this farce, the woman eventually confirmed the dissolution of her previous marriage, and therefore the legality of the current one. A few years later she successfully received Polish citizenship.
The fifth factor, which many do not pay attention to, but on which obtaining citizenship depends in the vast majority of countries, is official language of the state. As a rule, beginning immigrants are confident that they will easily learn it while living in the country. In some countries, the national language is not at all so necessary in everyday life, since the majority of its inhabitants speak excellent Russian or English.
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However, when it comes to obtaining citizenship, most often it turns out that you need to pass a fairly serious exam on proficiency in the language of the country of residence, and some immigrants suddenly find themselves simply unable to learn such a complex language. For example, I have heard similar arguments as arguments from Russians living in Hungary. They complained that the Hungarian language was so difficult that they had to abandon the idea of obtaining citizenship.
The listed points will allow you to be prepared from the very beginning to “not confuse tourism with immigration.” However, even they cannot prevent all the surprises that you may encounter in a new country.
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