Life as a Long-term Resident: Navigating the Visa Process

Long-term resident in a foreign country refers to those who are living in the country for an extended period. It is usually not just the citizens of that country who live there for more than two years but also foreigners who are permitted to stay there long-term. A long-term resident visa allows you to live in one country with permission from another. This may be helpful if you want to start up your own business where you need permission from the business license authority of your home capital but still want freedom while working abroad.

Below are the processes for getting a long-term resident visa.

1. Pre-visa Visit

This involves applying for a visit visa, and once granted, you can apply for a resident visa. This is usually not the process of first choice since it requires the person to leave their home country. 

2. Applying for a Resident Visa

This process involves applying directly for a resident visa. Usually, a letter of invitation is needed as part of the application. It varies to what country the applicant wishes to apply to and where he/she intends to stay long-term. In Thailand, a long-term resident visa is now an option for most applicants to work and stay in the country for a number of years. For other countries, it would require a work visa first then the applicant applies for a resident visa. If accepted and granted the visa, he/she becomes a long-term resident in that country.

3. Applying for Residence Permit inside the Country

It is usually done when the person wants to stay and work in that foreign country, especially if they have no money to go back home and wait for their passport to be renewed before they can legally leave their home country again.

General eligibility requirements and documentation needed to apply:

  1. A letter from your employer (if you work in that country) or an independent contractor.
  2. Two passport-type photos, one for the visa application and one for the residence permit application.
  3. A signed Letter of Invitation from the immigration office of the country where you would like to stay long term as well as other proofs of identity such as a valid passport/passport card or national ID card, as well as sufficient funds to maintain yourself while living there without having to resort to begging if not employed.
  4. Proof of Legal stay in your home country if you have previously been issued a permanent resident or short-term visa.

Below are tips for adjusting to life in your new country.

1. Be flexible and adaptable. 

You may have to make adjustments in your lifestyle or lifestyle preferences, especially when you are working. If you are used to living on a restricted income, be prepared for a greater living standard with greater consumption of alcohol, restaurants, and other luxuries that most expatriates indulge in while they live in the foreign country they work in and go home every weekend to visit family.

2. Blend in with the local community. 

It is very important to blend in with the local community if you want others to accept and like you as yourself. If you are working, you will have to come in contact with people from different races and ethnicity. This is a matter of understanding and tolerance of people from different backgrounds as well as learning their culture and ways of life.

3. Learn the local language and culture.

Learning the local language not only means you can communicate with the locals. Most importantly, you need to understand their lifestyle, which makes it easier for them to accept you as one of them, instead of a foreigner who doesn’t understand their culture or way of life. 


Long-term residency visas are relatively easy to obtain, but the process may vary from country to country. Due diligence should be observed, especially in applying for your resident visa. A long-term resident visa gives you appropriate legal residence status in a foreign country and is a requisite for applying for naturalization.

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