6 min read

July 22, 2021

What Does ‘Country of Residence’ Mean?

Find the term confusing? Fret not, as we’re here to help you clear all your doubts and learn what your country of residence really is.

Immigration and customs come with a dozen forms and terms that might sound unfamiliar. ‘Country of residence’ in USCIS forms is just one example of a term that may confuse those arriving in the US. Even though this section covers only a small portion of immigration forms, it can get tricky if you’re someone who’s been living in different countries for a while.

‘Country of residence’, ‘last country of residence’ or, sometimes, ‘current country of residence’, is the country in which you were living before coming to the United States. Now, this country is not supposed to be one that you visited as a tourist for vacation or leisure purposes, but one where you can live permanently by state law.

What Is Your ‘Country Of Residence’?

If you are an immigrant or a visitor to the United States, your country of residence would be the place you resided in habitually or regularly before entering the United States.

Suppose you hold a working visa or Green Card, and have been living in the United States for a major part of the last year. In this case, your country of residence will be the United States itself, regardless of your nationality or place of birth.

However, if you have been residing in some other country, such as India, and are now immigrating to the US, you’ll have to state your country of residence as India.

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What Does ‘Country Of Usual Residence’ Mean?

The country where you have a home and normally spend the majority of your days in is your country of usual residence. Temporary travel abroad for purposes of recreation, holidays, visits to friends or relatives, business, medical treatment or religious pilgrimage does not change your country of usual residence. It might or might not be the same as their legal residence or voting residence.

What Does ‘Country Of Chargeability’ Mean?

By definition, the ‘country of chargeability’ refers to the independent country under which an immigrant entering under a preference system is recognized, for purposes of numerical limitations. Numerical limitations are the annual limits established by the immigration legislation on the immigrant visas issued under family-sponsored preference or employment-based preference. Here, ‘chargeability’ relates to the rules which are used to determine the country under which one will be counted for Green Card purposes. It is usually the same as the country of birth. 

What Does ‘Country Of Citizenship’ Mean?

Country of citizenship refers to the country that you’re a national of, that is, the one reflected on your passport. A country in which you’re born or naturalized (and have not lost citizenship of) qualifies as your country of citizenship.

If you are a citizen of a particular country, you fall under its jurisdiction and protection on an international level. You can have dual nationality or citizenship — that is, being a citizen of two countries simultaneously — and share the rights and responsibilities of the citizens in each country, if you have been naturalized in a different country after living there for a certain period of time.

Is Country Of Residence The Same As Citizenship? 

Well, the short answer to this is not always. As mentioned before, the country of residence defines where you are allowed to live, irrespective of the country of your passport. But your citizenship might or might not be the same as your country of residence.

Difference Between Country Of Residence And Citizenship

If you only have residency in a country where you work, it means that you aren’t currently eligible for a passport of that country — and the benefits that might come with it. 

In simple terms, your nationality determines which country’s passport you travel with and are protected by. It is associated with your citizenship.

Your country of residence can be the same as your nationality if you live in that same country. However, if you have a visa or permit that gives you the right to live permanently in a country outside of your country of origin, that country will then be your country of residence.

For example, if you are a working professional in the United States with an H-1B visa, and your home country is China, then your residence would be the former, and your citizenship would be the latter.

Bottom Line

Knowing and differentiating between your country of residence and your citizenship is a common struggle amongst immigrants. Therefore, for a smooth run through immigration applications, understanding the simplest of terms like these becomes important — because it is essential that every detail you fill in must be correct.


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Akash Kalra
Akash Kalra is a writer, podcaster, and first-generation entrepreneur, as the founder of Izart Content Services: Home of Data Driven Storytellers.

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