Latest News 2017 March The Difference Between a Citizen & Permanent Resident

The Difference Between a Citizen & Permanent Resident

When it comes to daily life, there's very little difference between a permanent resident and a citizen, but the legal difference is enormous. While getting your green card is cause for celebration, you are still subject to the same requirements and restrictions that all immigrants are subject to.

Today's blog is about the legal difference between a permanent resident and a U.S. citizen. Read below to learn more!

The Rights of a Permanent Resident

Permanent residents (or green card recipients) are allowed to live indefinitely in the U.S. They have the right to work and the right to advocate for family members to receive their green cards. For many residents, these rights are enough for them—and they are significant rights. However, past this point, green card holders don't have the same rights as U.S. citizens.

For example, permanent residents cannot vote and must retain their passport from their country of origin. It is worth noting that permanent residents are still citizens of their original countries—they only have residency in the U.S. After 5 years of lawful residency, green card holders may initiate the citizenship process.

There are certain travel restrictions unique to permanent residents:

  • They cannot live anywhere else.
  • Residence may be considered abandoned if they spend 6+ months outside the U.S.
  • They must use their green card to reenter the U.S.
  • They can still be deported after committing a crime or for security violations, no matter how long they've been a resident.

The Rights of a U.S. Citizen

Citizens, unlike green card holders, are eligible to receive a U.S. passport and travel to countries with special U.S. visa benefits. They can leave and reenter the country whenever they wish without limit, and there's not time restriction on time spent outside the United States. Citizens can also vote in local and federal elections, hold government jobs, and serve on juries.

One of the most powerful benefits for citizens is actually geared toward their family members. Spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21 of U.S. citizens are eligible to emigrate here as soon as citizenship is finalized. Other family members, such as siblings or married children, will be placed on a waiting list for emigration (but are also eligible to emigrate eventually).

Finally, U.S. citizens are immune to deportation. Regardless of your legal troubles, this country will be your home as long as you live. The only exception to this provision is if you fraudulently received your green card or citizenship papers.