Permanent Residence vs Full Citizenship

Today, many people are aware of the issues regarding immigration to the United States. Immigration has been in the news because the influx of asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants at the southern border has become a humanitarian crisis.

Gaining permanent residency or Green Card status is an important step toward naturalization as a U.S. citizen. While Green Cards enable a permanent resident to participate in most aspects of American life, there are many areas in which a permanent resident has fewer rights than an American citizen. Jean Danhong Chen, an experienced immigration lawyer, explains the differences between the rights enjoyed by a U.S. citizen as compared to a Green Card holder.

The Rights and Responsibilities of a Permanent Resident

A Green Card holder has the right to live permanently in the United States. This permanent status could possibly be revoked if a Green Card holder commits a crime which causes them to be referred for deportation. The Green Card holder has the legal ability to work at any job they choose, except certain sensitive occupations that are restricted to United States citizens due to their security requirements.

Green Card holders are protected by all United States laws, as well as those of the state in which they reside and their local jurisdiction.

Permanent residents are required to obey all laws of the nation, state, and municipality. They are also required to file income tax returns, reporting all of their income to the IRS and state revenue divisions.

They are expected to uphold the democratic system of the United States government, and their permanent resident status could be revoked and the holder deported if they are found to be working against the best interests of the nation.

Young men age 18 through 25 are also required to register with the Selective Service, also known as the draft.

Differences between a Green Card Resident and a United States Citizen

Citizens have many rights above and beyond those of permanent residents. Constitutional rights including the freedom to express oneself and worship any way they wish are two of the most important. Citizens have the right to a prompt and fair jury trial.

They are allowed to vote in federal, state, and local elections. They are allowed to apply for jobs that require U.S. citizenship. They have the right to run for any elected office, providing that they meet the age requirement for certain positions. They are also granted the right to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The responsibilities of the United States citizen are greater than those of a permanent residency holder. They are required to defend and support the United States Constitution. They are encouraged to take part in the democratic process by voting and remaining up to date on federal, state, and local issues.

Like permanent residents, U.S. citizens are required to obey all federal, state, and local laws. They are also required to respect the opinions, rights, and beliefs of other citizens.

United States citizens also need to pay taxes in a legal and prompt fashion. They must serve jury duty when required. They must also be prepared to defend their country when needed.

The Process of Becoming a Permanent Resident

When a foreign national wants to become a permanent resident, the process can be difficult and time-consuming. It may take months or even several years between the time that the foreign national applies for a Green Card and when the card is received. Immigration attorneys like Jean Danhong Chen can be greatly helpful in navigating this complex process.

There are many different ways to get a Green Card. The most common is through family ties. As the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you may have the easiest path toward getting a Green Card. Immediate relatives of other Green Card holders also have a relatively uncomplicated chance of getting permanent resident status of their own.

Abused spouses of U.S. citizens or permanent residents are also eligible.

Getting a Green Card through employment is also popular. The first preference for immigrant workers is for people who have documented extraordinary abilities in science, the arts, business, athletics, or education. Professors and researchers are also counted in this first category of preference.

The second category of preference entails being a member of a profession requiring advanced degree studies. Having strong abilities in business, the arts, and science can also qualify these people to become permanent residents.

The third category includes skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers who are not considered exceptional in their contributions.

Physicians who agree to practice in underserved areas can also receive Green Cards. Investors in United States businesses who spend at least $1 million and create 10 jobs can apply as well.

There are other special categories for people who have sought asylum. Religious workers, Afghanistan or Iraqi nationals who have worked for the United States government in their home countries, international broadcasters, and employees of international organizations like NATO are also eligible.

Permanent Residency is Key to a Legal Standing

People who are interested in becoming legal permanent residents must follow all of these rules and guidelines in order to become a Green Card holder. It is worth noting also that there is a national quota for the number of Green Cards that can be issued from year to year, so it may take longer to process an application.

Jean Danhong Chen encourages all people who are interested in becoming permanent residents to secure appropriate legal representation. This can be an immense help in achieving Green Card residency status.

Christian Reynolds


Christian is the chief reporter, editor, and webmaster at Cleveland Leader. An aspiring news anchor, his hobbies outside of investigative reporting are golf, martinis, and adventure travel. If you have a scoop on any developing story, please contact him on this page.


About Author

Christian Reynolds

Christian is the chief reporter, editor, and webmaster at Cleveland Leader. An aspiring news anchor, his hobbies outside of investigative reporting are golf, martinis, and adventure travel. If you have a scoop on any developing story, please contact him on this page.

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