In the US there exist "dual intent" visas, e.g. H-1B, which while being a temporary work permit, nevertheless can lead to a permanent residence rights ("green card", usually sponsored by the employer as well) and ultimately US citizenship.

Are there any EU countries that offer something similar, for any kind of workers, e.g. "highly skilled", "in high demand" etc.?

Let's exclude from this discussion marriage to a EU citizen as a path, because that part might be (i) obvious and also (ii) substantially different, as not mainly based on work. Also I know there's a "citizenship by investment" route in many (EU) countries; let's not talk about that either, unless there's a variant for it that--say--lowers the investment amount required if the applicant has work history in the country (I don't know if anything like this actually exists).

Als the EU site has a page for the permanent residene of EU nationals (in another EU country), but it looks like there's nothing at EU level law/regulations for non-EU nationals (except for non-EU family members of EU citizens, for which there are EU-level provisions). (N.B.: I see now this is also wrong/incomplete given the Blue Card in the answer.)

  • 5
    Are you looking exclusively for specific visas, or do you include naturalisation via residency, which I suspect most or all EU countries offer?
    – origimbo
    Aug 9, 2018 at 10:21
  • 2
    @origimbo: If "naturalisation via residency" is an obvious step, then simply what EU countries offer residency for non-EU foreign workers. I suspect the length of residency matters for naturalization, so the questions would then become what EU countries have foreign worker arrangements that allow them (non-EU workers) to stay long enough to apply for naturalization... or something like that. Aug 9, 2018 at 10:25
  • @origimbo: also note that simply being in the country may not be the same thing as residency. In the US, time on student visas, e.g. F1, doesn't count in any way toward US citizenship. On the other hand, in Canada apparently it does (now) canadastudynews.com/2017/06/22/… Also, in the US one can be "resident for tax purposes" but not for any other (purpose). Aug 9, 2018 at 10:47
  • The rules are similarly varied inside the EU (e.g. compare study in the UK [doesn't count] with France [might fast track you]). Since this is decided on a per country basis, would a community wiki answer be appropriate?
    – origimbo
    Aug 9, 2018 at 11:11
  • 2
    As far as I'm aware a large majority of EU countries have a path to citizenship for foreign workers. I wouldn't be surprised if they all do. Also, you seem to have overlooked directive 2003/109/EC, which many people do. See ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/legal-migration/….
    – phoog
    Aug 9, 2018 at 16:37

5 Answers 5


Questions of citizenship and migration from third countries are reserved to the member states of the EU, so the rules differ between the 28.

EU-wide: The EU "blue card scheme" is modelled on the US green card, and intended to provide a simpler migration route for highly skilled third country workers. At the moment it's only primarily issued by Germany, and interacts with their citizenship laws. The UK, Ireland and Denmark have opted out of the scheme.






Czech Republic: you can become a permanent resident after 5 years on a work visa and then a citizen after 5 years on a permanent residency.




France: In general, a non-EU citizen who has resided in France for 5 years can apply for French citizenship. This can be reduced to 2 years for some activities such as successful completion of certain French qualifications, or a "minimal" waiting period for some people, such as refugees, French army volunteers, etc. Naturalisation (in French)

Germany: An application can be made after 5 to 8 years, provided that there are no criminal convictions, no dependency on welfare payments, and language skills (for details, consult a lawyer). The applicant usually has to give up the original citizenship, but there are exceptions to that.

In 2017 there were 112,211 naturalizations.



Ireland: Non-EEA citizens can apply with 1825 days(5 years) legal residency over a 9 year period. Time spent on study visas does not count towards this.












Spain: The official site of the government(Spanish) explains that nationality requires a time of legal residence in the country, without differentiating between the reason for the residence (with the exception of refugees, who can apply for citizenships after 5 years).

The time ranges from a maximum of 10 years to a minimum of 1 year (people married/widow/offspring/adopted to/of/by Spanish citizens, or born in Spain).

Sweden: The general rule is that five years with continuous permanent residency is enough to apply for citizenship. Exceptions include citizens of nordic countries (as short as 2 years), refugees and stateless persons (four years). Years as a student (not including PhD-students) does not count. You have to be 18 years or older to apply. Source in swedish

United Kingdom: Over 18s can apply for citizenship 12 months after obtaining indefinite leave to remain. The rules for who can apply for ILR depend on age and residence, but people who hold a Tier 2 skilled worker visa can generally apply after 5 years (hence 6 years to citizenship). Time spent in the UK on study visas generally doesn't count.

  • 2
    My reading of the "Blue Card" is that it's only a work permit, not permanent residence like the US green card, so the comparison may be a bit misleading, i.e. it looks more like a EU-wide H-1B. Aug 9, 2018 at 12:29
  • 1
    @Fizz: afaik it grants permanent residence for those working (or having a job ready to start) if your job is permanent (must be renewed after a few years, similarly to a US green card), but is closer to the conditional green card that is only valid for two years and has to converted for permanent residency.
    – janh
    Aug 9, 2018 at 12:41
  • 5
    @Fizz Actually, the Blue Card only offers work/residence in one EU country at a time. Depending on the country, you might have to hold the Blue Card for some time, before you can switch to another EU country, where you'd have to get that countries Blue Card. Furthermore, some countries (like Germany) do offer "permanent" residence permits to workers who have legally worked for a certain amount of time, with amount depending on the permit used to obtain the permanent permit. I'll write details in an answer.
    – AndrejaKo
    Aug 9, 2018 at 13:52
  • @AndrejaKo but see ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/legal-migration/…
    – phoog
    Aug 9, 2018 at 16:41
  • 1
    @Fizz Trying to think of EU/European permits using US categories can be misleading. The EU blue card, like national highly skilled migrant schemes and even regular work permits is less restrictive than H1B visas in at least two respects: No maximum stay and less control for employers. Conversely, you won't find anything like the diversity lottery or a “green card” programme that would let you apply for residency from the get-go. Instead you have a relatively smooth path from any kind of semi-permanent status to an officially recognized “permanent residence” and ultimately citizenship.
    – Relaxed
    Aug 9, 2018 at 22:15

In addition to the blue card scheme, there is Directive 2003/109/EC, which allows "long-term residents" to establish themselves in another EU country. Denmark, Ireland, and the UK have opted out.

See also Long-term Residents at ec.europa.eu.

Most EU countries allow naturalization after a certain number of years of residence. The required length of residence may vary depending on the status of the applicant. Some examples include

I am not aware of any EU country that does not allow naturalization.


Rules around citizenship are strictly national, which is why you won't find much information on EU websites. The question is also a bit ill-conceived as it relies on peculiarly US concepts that have no currency in European countries.

There are great differences within the EU but, in general, there is nothing like the green card (permanent residence from day one) or H-visas (long-term visas with many restrictions, a maximum duration of stay/status and a rather arduous path to citizenship). In this context, “dual intent” does not make much sense as there is no strict distinction between an immigrant and a non-immigrant visa.

Instead, you will typically find:

  • Special visas like student visas or spousal visas.
  • Temporary visas covering only very short stays (e.g. seasonal work visas) and forcing you to leave the country before you can apply for something else,
  • Long-term work visas/permits that let you stay for as long as you qualify (i.e. no maximum stay) and more-or-less automatically turn in something more permanent after 5-10 years,
  • Naturalisation procedures for anybody who stayed 5-10 years on any sort of long-term visa and fulfills conditions like holding a stable job, speaking the language, etc.

Long-term residence permits and naturalisation are typically available after some time to anybody who holds a permit allowing them to stay semi-permanently in the country and not limited to a special category of “dual intent” visas. Unlike H1B visas, they are therefore also open to people with low qualifications (e.g. people running a shop, people with a right to stay because they grew up in the country or refugees). If you somehow qualify for a work visa (not always trivial of course), you can typically stay forever on that work visa and will eventually be eligible for naturalisation.

  • There are some long term work visa programmes with maximum periods of eligibility. However, these should be long enough that workers can transition onto some form of permanent residency.
    – origimbo
    Aug 9, 2018 at 22:20
  • @origimbo For example? The only thing that comes to mind are visas for artists and the like. I am less familiar with central and eastern European countries but in general those would appear to be uncommon.
    – Relaxed
    Aug 9, 2018 at 22:21
  • I was thinking of the UK Tier 2, which currently has a 6 year maximum assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/…
    – origimbo
    Aug 9, 2018 at 22:24
  • @origimbo Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention the fact that UK is clearly the odd one out in all this.
    – Relaxed
    Aug 9, 2018 at 22:27

The golden visa programs or citizenship-by-investment programs aim to attract high net worth individuals. These programs contributes to country's economy and in return grant a second citizenship.

Cyprus:Cyprus citizenship by investment program requires a minimum of €2,000,000 investment and grants citizenship in 180 days which is the fastest option.

Malta:Malta citizenship by investment program requires a minimum of €650,000 investment and grants citizenship in 12 months.

Portugal:Portugal Golden Visa Program offers citizenship after 5 years of legal residence. First the applicants. The required investment amount is €350,000. The program offers permanent residency permit, and after completing five years the investor qualifies for applying for Portuguese citizenship



After legally residing for 10 years in the country, it is possible to apply for the citizenship through naturalization (details in Lithuanian here). However:

  • You must pass exam of Lithuanian language.
  • You must pass exam on the backgrounds of the Constitution.
  • You need a legal source of income.
  • As a rule, no dual citizenship permitted.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .