Long-Term Residence

Along with family reunion, long-term residence is a relative strength for countries’ integration policies. These residents can work, study, retire and live in the country just like nationals. Migrants must pass many different eligibility requirements and conditions – some more restrictive than others. Several permit-holders cannot apply, even if living in the country for 5 years or more. 

The conditions once reserved for citizenship are increasingly applied to long-term residence. But the conditions for long-term residence better encourage applicants to succeed. With a focus on basic language knowledge, they take slightly better account of individuals’ abilities and disabilities, and can be more easily supported with courses. Countries retain discretion to refuse or withdraw a long-term resident’s permit, although personal circumstances must be taken into account and there are grounds for an appeal.

Most residents can attain a secure status and equal rights in Western European and Nordic countries. The same is true in CA, but not the US. Newcomers may have the most difficulty meeting the eligibility requirements and conditions in UK, CH, DE, FR and AT. Although CY and GR also have burdensome conditions, most new immigration countries do not, even though procedures remain highly discretionary.

Best Case Add to MyPdf 

This is a composite of national policies found in May 2010 in at least one of the 31 countries.

At some point, all legal immigrants have the right to decide for themselves whether to settle permanently in the country. For an applicant, the procedure is free and short, because the only issue to resolve is whether there is potential fraud or a real security threat. She can appeal any rejection or withdrawal. If accepted, she is secure in her status and treated equally as nationals, with the same rights and responsibilities in most areas of life.

Worst Case Add to MyPdf 

This is a composite of national policies found in May 2010 in at least one of the 31 countries.

As a foreigner, a migrant will always have a ‘permanently temporary’ legal status, without equal opportunities to integrate. Many legal immigrants’ types of permit make them ineligible for long-term residence, even if they otherwise met the criteria and residence requirement. An applicant must comply with difficult income and employment requirements. He may not even attempt the high and costly language and integration tests in the absence of free courses and study materials. If finally accepted, his status remains tenuous. He can only return to his home country for very short periods, which frustrates his plans to contribute to its development and his family life.

Changes & Trends Add to MyPdf 

Potential long-term residents would largely meet with the same opportunities and obstacles in 2010 as they did in 2007. Almost nothing changes where EU minimum legal standards apply. Countries that have to comply catch up (BE +15, PT +14, ES +6), while those that do not can seriously backtrack (UK -43). Most countries are focusing their policy changes on new and demanding conditions circulating in European debates. In 1999, Germany was the only EU Member State to impose a language requirement. Now, the trend on language and integration conditions extends from Europe’s established countries of immigration (DK, DE, UK) to new countries of labour migration in the south and east (CY, CZ, IT, PT). Other changes are less conclusive: AT, DK, PT and ES are trying to attract international students to settle, unlike LU and UK; and while ES and PT are offering their long-term residents better protection against deportation, others are finding new reasons for rejection and withdrawal such as points-systems (UK, DK, IT), vague security grounds (EE), and double punishment (UK).