One of the aspects of United States immigration law that contributes to the confusion of understanding it is its terminology that has either changed with time or only serves to apply in certain cases; such is the nature of permanent residency. For instance, in the United States, the famed symbol of permanent residence, of being able to live and work beyond the terms of a temporary work visa is the Green Card
Not all nations have paths for permanent residence as an immigrant to the country. However, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Russia, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia and the entirety of Scandinavia currently offer opportunities for permanent residence. Even when a nation does offer permanent residency to an immigrants, it may come with certain stipulations attached.
Theoretically, a nation could only offer evidence of permanent residence to those residents who are also members of the country or have claims to identity within the country as a product of their birth. Similar restrictions may also come to those who seek full citizenship in a foreign nation.
Permanent residency is not something one can utilize as a methods for defiance of immigration officials and local authorities. According to United States law, if one leave the country for an extended period of time, one can be considered to be waiving ones right to proof of permanent residence and their green card could thus become invalid, and should one choose to violate state or federal law and otherwise conduct oneself in a way that is contrary to American ideals as outlined in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
Permanent residence is not tantamount to citizenship. A green card might be a final destination for some immigrants, and realistically will take years to accomplish, if it happens at all. Still, citizenship confers more rights (and responsibilities) upon those who apply for it and are accepted than permanent residency does, and at least in the United States, the green card application process and the naturalization process are two separate routes. Again, despite the implied finality of “permanent residence,” citizenship is of the highest priority.