“Kathleen, I am a faithful reader of your posts. Something we have discovered that I don’t recall being covered is about the time limits you can be out of a country (a comparison would be great) to either gain citizenship and a second passport or even to retain your residency.
“We found out too late that we had already been out of the country too much to gain citizenship in Ecuador. We can only be out of the country no more than 18 months total in 5 years to even keep our residency. The idea of six months in country and six months home doesn’t work for us here.
“Do you know of countries that allow more flexibility for being in and out of the country? Thanks.”
–Joan Z., Ecuador
Yes, each jurisdiction has their own rules about how much time you must remain in the country to maintain your residency status. Ecuador’s requirements are perhaps the most onerous. Panama’s, on the other hand, are among the most liberal. You must be physically present in the country but one day every two years to retain your status. Colombia requires you to be in the country once every six months, for example.
When it comes to qualifying for citizenship, most countries don’t pay attention to time spent in the country. You qualify for citizenship based on meeting certain residency requirements. Most countries look for five years of residency before you can apply for citizenship.
However, it’s important to understand the nuances of the rules here, as well. You can apply for naturalization in Panama, for example, after five years of permanent residency status. However, most residency programs in Panama don’t give you permanent residency right away, and, again, the clock for citizenship doesn’t start running until you’ve achieved the permanent resident status. This is one reason Panama’s current “Friendly Nations” visa is so appealing; it grants permanent residency straightaway.
In Ireland, you must have 60 months of legal residency over the previous 9 years to be able to qualify for citizenship. Your legal residency doesn’t have to be consecutive except in the final year, when you’ll have to be able to show that you’ve been in the country for the better part of that entire 12-month period.
We have published a comparison chart for residency and citizenship requirements for key countries on our radar. It was part of our Annual Retire Overseas Index. You can purchase a copy of this here.
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