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How to choose a country for relocation: Top 8 immigration destinations

Fortunately, there is a wide choice of countries in the world with high standards of technological development, education and healthcare. If you are considering one of them for immigration, this article is for you.

Start by checking immigration laws of the chosen country, because not all of them are welcoming foreigners as eagerly as others and impose restrictions on immigration. You will find it challenging to relocate to such countries and regions as Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway and Sweden), France and Netherlands, as well as Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Besides, to become a full member of the society, you would need to target permanent residence status and not just a residence permit.

Why do you need permanent residence?

A residence permit in most cases means a long-term visa that gives you the right to stay in a country for a long time and do what that visa allows you to do. And this time is limited. Permanent residence is an immigration status that speaks for itself; permanent residents are allowed to stay in the country indefinitely, with almost the same rights as citizens.

Permanent residence status in some countries is subject to extension, in others is given without expiry date. Permanent residence is one step away from naturalisation and second passport. However, some migrants choose never to make that step, especially id by doing so they would lose their first nationality. You can learn more about temporary residence permit, permanent residence and dual citizenship in this article.

Going back to the main question in the heading. Which country to choose for immigration? Where is the safest and most stable? Which country offers best business environment? Where can you invest to get permanent residence easier and faster?

Criteria for choosing a country for immigration

The choice of where you are going to relocate to and live permanently depends on your needs and ambitions. You might be seeking to do business without pressure from authorities or give your children an excellent education in world-class universities, or to live in a safe and stable environment with beneficial taxation.

An important factor to keep in mind is how easy it is to relocate to a new place. For this, you might want to consider one of the countries that operate government residence by investment (Golden Visa) and citizenship by investment programs.

How to get residence/citizenship by investment?

Each country offers different terms and requirements, but there are two investment options that are common across all programs.

Investment in business

You must invest money into a real business by buying shares of an existing company or opening your own firm and creating jobs for permanent residents.

Investment in real estate

You must purchase residential or commercial property or properties or invest in approved development projects.

Which countries are investor-friendly?

There are several jurisdictions in Europe that have relaxed requirements to foreign investors by law. They include Malta, Portugal, Spain, Latvia, Greece and Cyprus.

You will find it harder to get permanent residence in Austria, United Kingdom, but pluses of these jurisdictions overweigh the hardship of immigrating there.

If you are not put off by larger distances, have a look at Canada or former British colonies in the Caribbean, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, where governments welcome foreign investors.

Ratings of countries

Global rankings were developed in order to score countries against a number of attributes such as quality of life, entrepreneurship and safety. It does not mean you should rely on them blindly, but they can help you get a general idea of a situation in a country. Here is one example.

Where is safest to live?

One of the country ratings is Global Peace Index that determines most peaceful countries in the world. Though this index is often criticised by scientists, it does reflect true state of things; top countries demonstrate low crime rate, good neighbour relationships and political stability.

Iceland has been at the very top since 2008. In 2019 ranking, it is followed by New Zealand and Portugal. Canada came 6th.

Portugal has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe. You can get a residence permit there by investing at least €250,000. Portugal Golden Visa gives the right to live, work and study in the country. You can apply for permanent residence in 5 years of living in Portugal.

What is the happiest country in the world?

World Happiness Report is done by American scientists from the Columbia University under the UN auspices. Happiness is a subjective thing; therefore, they evaluate countries against more objective factors such as well-being, life expectancy, confidence in the government, corruption, etc. In 2020, Finland was ranked the happiest country in the world three times in a row. The United Kingdom holds the 13th place leaving Germany and USA behind.

Best countries for businessmen

First identify what type of activities you are going to do and where. If it is an international company operating outside of its incorporation country, consider one of the tax havens. In Europe, it is Malta and Cyprus. There is no corporation tax for profits received outside these jurisdictions. Similar benefits are offered by some Caribbean island states.

If you are after a large market, transparent business environment, tax benefits and government support for small and medium businesses, then ideally you would be looking into opening a company in the United Kingdom.


It is not easy to get a UK business visa. We highly recommend getting in touch with a qualified immigration lawyer. However, it is one of the shortest and most interesting routes to permanent residence, you can apply in 5 years and sometimes even earlier, in 3 years.

Where to move to with a family?

If you value comfort and high living standards you should consider Latvia as your new home. It is a stable country with low living costs, natural beauty and mild climate. It is compact, peaceful and welcoming.

Latvian government launched Latvia Golden Visa program offering a residence permit for a whole family in return for investment of €250,000. You can apply for permanent residence in Latvia 5 years after receiving your permit provided you have lived there for at least 4 years and passed a language test and know Latvian history and traditions.

Pluses and minuses of top 8 immigration destinations

We are limited as to how much information we can give you in a small article. Each one of us has their needs, requirements and budget.

For your convenience we have made a table of countries where you can move to with advantages of each one of them.

Country PlusesImmigration program
PortugalIn top 5 most peaceful countries in the world. Tax benefits for new residents.

Residence by investment after 6 months.

Permanent residence after 5 years of residence.


Advanced economy, high standards of education and healthcare.

Favourablebusiness environment.

Residence by investment within 1 year.

Permanent residence after 5 years of residence.


Visa-free travel to over 160 countries incl. EU.

Tax benefits for international companies.

Residence by investment in 3 weeks after applying.

EU passport for an investor in 1 year.


Full EU member state.

Favourable taxation for businesses.

European passport by investment in 6 months.

Family-oriented country.

Minimum investment of €250,000 and possibility to return the money.

Golden Visa by investment in 4 months.

Permanent residence after 5 years (4 years you must live in Latvia).

United Kingdom

Investment attractiveness, economic stability, favourable taxation.

Pro-business government.

Permanent residence in 2 to 5 years.

UK passport in 5 to 6 years.

Caribbean countries

Low-cost investment options.

Visa-free travel to EU, UK; special arrangements with the USA.

Tax haven for international business and individuals.

Caribbean citizenship by investment in 4 months without visiting the country, apart from Antigua and Barbuda where you have to go at least once.

Get in touch with our experts for a more detailed consultation and discuss your immigration and business requirements with them. Qualified lawyers at Imperial & Legal offer a comprehensive approach to all your matters from obtaining a visa to opening a company, tax planning, purchasing real estate and managing your business. Many questions – one answer.

FAQ about choosing a country for relocation

What is the most powerful passport allowing you to visit the most countries in the world?

Japan tops the passport index published in the first half of 2021. This top chartestimates immigration opportunities that citizens of various countries have. For example, the Japanese can travel to 193 countries without any additional paperwork. Ironically, Japan is also among the countries where it is especially challenging to get a permanent residence permit.

If you look at the top seven countries in this index, you will see that Spain with a score of 190 countries is the fourth in the list, Austria with a score of 189 is the fifth and Portugal with a score of 188 is the sixth. These are the countries that are rather open to immigrants and are even ready to offer favourable conditions to foreign investors.

What is the difference between the European “Golden Visa” and permanent residence?

The main differences are given in the table below:

Golden VisaPermanent Residence

A contribution to a national economy is necessary to get Golden Visa

A small government fee is required to obtain permanent residence

Golden Visa is issued to foreign investors

Permanent residence is granted to holders of various visa types, including investors

An applicant is not expected to know the language, history and culture of the country

The status of a resident implies a high degree of the applicant’s integration in the society, good command of the language, as well as knowledge of culture and traditions

Your application will be processed within several months

You can apply for permanent residence after living in the country permanently for 5 years

A Golden Visa holder is often restricted in terms of work and business opportunities

A permanent resident has almost the same rights as citizens of the country

After living several years in the country, a Golden Visa holder can apply for permanent residence

As a rule, you can apply for citizenship a year after getting a permanent resident status

Golden Visa is to be regularly extended


Permanent residence is issued for an indefinite period of time or is extended after long periods of time

What countries offer the best conditions for setting up and running of off-shore companies?

Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Saint Lucia – former British colonies and currently independent states in the Caribbean, are tax havens with corporate and tax legislation that is very favourable for establishing an off-shore business. International companies do not have to pay taxes on foreign income.

Additional advantages of these countries include citizenship by investment programmes that give wealthy investors a chance to get a second passport for a reasonable price.

How many years must I spend in Great Britain to get permanent residence?

It depends on your immigration status. On average, holders of business or work visas must stay in the UK for at least 5 years before they can apply for permanent residence.

There are two exceptions:

  1. If a holder of an Innovator visa manages to get their business to generate a high profit (500,000 – 1,000,000 GBP per year) or create 5-10 new jobs for British residents, they can apply for permanent residence after 3 years of living in the country.
  2. If Investor is willing to invest in shares of British companies significantly more than the minimum established by law, they also get a chance to become a permanent resident earlier. If you invest 5,000,000 GBP, you can apply in 3 years, while an investment of over 10,000,000 GBP can secure you permanent residence in 2 years.

To find out more about getting a permanent resident status in Great Britain, you can browse through other articles on our website or talk to our immigration advisers.

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