What are the Differences Between Being a Permanent Resident and a Citizen?
Two important concepts in immigration law are the concepts of lawful permanent residency and citizenship. Citizenship is the end goal for many people who enter the United States. This is not an instant process. In order to eventually become a citizen, an individual must apply to begin the naturalization process and meet all eligibility requirements.
There are a number of differences between a lawful permanent resident and a citizen of the United States. An immigration lawyer can discuss these differences in detail with you and walk you through the steps of the naturalization process, from initially obtaining your green card to filling out your Application for Naturalization with you.
Eligibility for Permanent Resident Status
A lawful permanent resident is an individual who is permitted to remain in the United States indefinitely. These individuals hold documents known as green cards. To obtain a green card, an individual must meet certain eligibility requirements. These requirements depend on the individual’s circumstances, such as whether he or she is married to a US citizen, a refugee or individual seeking political asylum, an individual working in the United States, or a “special immigrant,” such as a religious worker or an international broadcaster.
Eligible individuals must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to obtain green cards. Green cards are valid for 10 years from their issue dates.
Lawful permanent residents can be deported if they are found guilty of certain crimes or if they fail to establish permanent residence in the United States. They also cannot vote in federal and local elections in the United States.
Eligibility for Citizenship
A lawful permanent resident can apply for citizenship if he or she meets the eligibility requirements for his or her circumstances.
Unlike lawful permanent residents, citizens can vote in elections, serve on juries, and hold certain government jobs. Citizens also cannot be deported from the country unless the court determines that they committed fraud in order to obtain their green cards or citizen status.
Other Differences Between Citizens and Permanent Residents
A citizen can petition for his or her family members to immigrate to the United States. Citizens can also us United States passports to travel to other countries, whereas lawful permanent residents, being citizens of other nations, must use passports for their home nations and carry their green cards when they travel to and from the United States.
Work with an Experienced Chicago Immigration Attorney
For many people, being a permanent resident of the United States comes before being a citizen. These are different stages of the naturalization process. If you are considering coming to the United States and beginning the naturalization process, or if you are already here and considering taking that next step, contact our team of immigration lawyers at Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC to set up your initial consultation in our office.