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What Does “Country of Residence” Mean?

If you’re looking to move to the United States to live and work, it can feel like there is an endless amount of paperwork and forms to fill out. It can also be really confusing as there is almost a dictionary’s worth of new vocabulary to learn. From “country of domicile” to “country of residence”, it can be very confusing to know what these terms actually mean – especially if you are not an experienced immigration attorney.

If you’re a foreign national who is trying to fill out your permanent residency application for the United States and are finding it overwhelming or frustrating, this is very normal. This article will cover the difference between country of residence and nationality and how this could affect your visa application.

What Does Country of Residence Mean?

If you’ve already begun your visa application for the United States, you will quickly encounter the term “country of residence”. Essentially, your country of residence is the country where you are granted permission to live permanently. You will also need to have lived in that country for most of the last twelve months for it to be your actual country of residence. This won’t include any countries you may have visited on a short-term basis, such as traveling for business, leisure, or visiting family for a brief time.

For example, if you’ve living in a country that’s different from the country listed on your passport, the country you are living in would be considered your country of residence. 

What’s the Difference Between Country of Residence and Nationality? 

Even though nationality and country of residence sound like they are speaking about the same thing, these terms mean something slightly different. If you only have residency rights in a country where you live and work, you aren’t currently eligible for a passport from that country and any of the rights and responsibilities that come with it. For example, if you are a resident in a European Union country (so you have the right to live and work there, but you aren’t a citizen), you are usually allowed to move around and visit other EU countries to visit, but you can only live in your country of residence. However, if you have an EU passport, you can live and work in any EU country because of the benefits of being an EU citizen. Your nationality dictates which country’s passport you travel on and are protected by. Your country of residence can be the same as your nationality if you live and work in the same country you have citizenship in.

If you are a foreign national looking to register for permanent residence in the United States, you must fill out Form I-485. You will first need to see how you are eligible to apply for permanent residency either via employment, asylee status or through family already living in the United States.

The immigration system of the United States is known for being complex and constantly evolving. If you are interested in making the U.S. your country of residence, it’s best to speak to an experienced immigration attorney. At Dominguez Law Firm, PLLC, we work with our clients to get them through the complex immigration process and work hard to achieve the best result possible. Get in touch today to discuss your specific immigration case.