U.S. Green Card vs. U.S. Citizenship

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Green card vs. citizenship – both have features in common and others that set them apart. A green card holder explicitly has the full legal right to reside and work in the United States. It is a procedure for immigrating in order to become a citizen. Therefore, the majority of those with green cards eventually become citizens. For the record, Green Card holders are also referred to as “Lawful Permanent Residents” (LPR).

Being a permanent resident versus having a green card has several differences. Despite being a legal “resident” of the United States, a green card holder is not a permanent citizen, as was previously mentioned. Simply put, a person who has a green card is able to live and work legally in the nation. Voting rights are one of the advantages that a citizen would enjoy that a holder of a green card would not, among other things. The process of acquiring permanent citizenship for the bearer of a green card can take a few years.

How to Become U.S. Citizen Quickly

People can become citizens of the United States by being born in the country, being born abroad to parents who are citizens of the United States, or by residing in the U.S as a child while a parent naturalizes.

All of these obviously require some kind of prior parental connection to the United States.

Without it, basically the only option to instantly become a citizen of the United States is to enlist in the military, as explained in the U.S. Citizenship Rights for U.S. Military Personnel and Veterans.

Differences Between Green Card and Citizenship

Green card holdersU.S. citizens (by birth or naturalization)
Can they be deported from the U.S.?Yes, if they engage in criminal or espionage activity, fail to notify the American government of a change of address, come under public scrutiny, or otherwise do something that falls under one of the legal grounds for deportation listed in American law.Not on the basis of deportability, no. However, if someone applied for naturalized citizenship fraudulently, their citizenship in the United States may be withdrawn. Citizens can also voluntarily renounce their status.
Will they receive an identity document?Yes, commonly known as Form I-551, a green card.Yes, for instance a birth certificate, a consular record of a birth abroad to a parent who is a citizen of the United States, or a naturalization certificate.
Do they qualify for a U.S. passport?No. They will require a passport from their home country as well as a green card in order to leave and return.With a few exceptions, after submitting an application.
Can they vote in U.S. elections?No, doing so might result in their deportation.Yes.
Can they petition for family members to immigrate?Yes, with a restricted number of visas available each year for the spouse and unmarried children.Yes, for parents, partners, kids (whether they’re married or not), and siblings. For spouses and minor children, the timetable is typically shorter because fewer annual constraints apply to them.
Do they qualify for government benefits?Yes, but to a lesser extent than what Americans enjoy.Yes, assuming they fulfill the requirements for basic eligibility.

Rights and Benefits of U.S. Green Card

A green photo ID card is given to a person who is a lawful permanent resident. The document serves as proof that the holder is eligible to apply for certain immediate family members to also be granted green cards as well as to permanently live and work in the United States.

Green card holders, however, are limited in their ability compared to American citizens. Elections in the US are not open to them. If they do, it can be viewed as a fake claim to citizenship and result in their deportation.

Even though they are referred to as “permanent” residents, not every person holding a green card has this status. LPRs, for instance, are not permitted to live permanently outside of the United States or to leave the country at any moment. If they do, their residency will be revoked and their application to enter the country again will be denied.

Additionally, they risk losing their right to remain in the country if they fail to notify US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of an address change, break the law, engage in acts of terrorism or espionage, or meet one of the other criteria for deportation.

Additionally, green card holders may not necessarily be eligible for the same government benefits and aid as American citizens. Prior to collecting benefits under many federal programs, green card holders must wait five years.

Rights and Benefits of U.S. Citizenship

The highest status attainable under the U.S. immigration law is the U.S. citizenship. It denotes a legitimately inalienable right to reside in the US. The grounds for deportability that apply to green card holders do not apply to citizens. A previous immigrant’s citizenship can only be revoked if they were fraudulent in their first application for it.

For example, unlike green card holders, U.S. citizens can petition for their parents (as direct relatives), their married children, and their brothers and sisters to join them in the U.S. They can also appeal for a wider list of foreign national family members than permanent residents can.

Limitations of U.S. Green Card

Green card holders or lawful permanent residents (LPRs) do not have all the rights of a citizen because they are not U.S. citizens, although having the ability to live and work in the country and receiving most of the same advantages. Constraints include:

  • Voting rights are not available to those with green cards.
  • As opposed to American citizens, holders of green cards do not have as high a priority when sponsoring members of their families for green cards.
  • Children born outside of the country do not immediately receive green cards, and they are not transferable.
  • Citizens with green cards cannot run for political office.
  • American passports are not given to holders of green cards.
  • Green card holders who depart the country permanently after eight years or longer must pay expatriation and exit taxes, much like a citizen of the United States who gives up citizenship.
  • The possession of a green card does not ensure complete immunity against deportation. However, it should be noted that holders of green cards are exempt from deportation in the event that US immigration law changes.
  • Every ten years, green cards must be renewed.
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