Being a permanent resident is sometimes synonymous to being a U.S. citizen. The two are often confused with each other. Other immigrants opt for permanent residency or the green card because it is easier than the tedious process of being a citizen. A U.S. citizenship gives you a certain upper hand because you will enjoy more privileges from this country rather than just being a green card holder. Both require you to live in the United States to fully enjoy what the U.S. has to offer. Being one of the top countries of today, we are open to immigrants wanting to be a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen.
There are several differences of being a permanent resident from a U.S. citizen.
Immigrants are often petitioned by a green card holder who is their spouse or employer or relative in order to come to the U.S.A. for residency. It is not a certainty that one can be a resident of the U.S. A citizen in the other hand can have their children be U.S. citizens automatically after being born.
Yes, permanent residents can live and work in the U.S.A. for as long as their green cards would allow, but they have limited rights. For example, they have no right to suffrage, which means come election time they will have no part in the voting process. Also, they will not enjoy the privilege of visiting other countries for long periods of a time if they want to maintain their permanent resident status. Short trips are allowable in order to maintain your permanent resident status, otherwise the government will consider your travel time as abandonment of residency. While a U.S. citizen can enjoy as much travel time as they want without thinking about his residency in the U.S.
Permanent residents are still subject to deportation, unlike U.S. citizens. Most programs have a 5 year minimum requirement before a permanent resident gets any benefits whatsoever. That’s a pretty long wait, which is why it’s wisest to start applying for citizenship early on to get a head start.
Citizens are only required to have a passport in order to travel, while permanent residents are required to acquire a visa for travel. Applying for a visa will not always be guaranteed and sometimes require a certain amount of time to wait.
For green card holders, crimes no matter how small are a big matter because they risk deportation. Being deported means that you have to abandon all that you have worked for in the U.S. Apart from that, you will still have to face the consequences of your crimes. Imagine living as a permanent resident in the U.S. for 5 years and you are still at risk of being deported. You will always be worried about your status in this country.
Certain jobs require you to be a citizen, which means you can only apply to a limited number of jobs. For example, you cannot apply for a job at the federal government because they require you to be a citizen. To be a U.S. citizen entails many such responsibilities and knowledge that a permanent resident have yet to acquire.
It really depends on what your purpose is. Immigrants usually come here for citizenship but if you’re here for other purposes and do not require the rights and privileges of a citizen, then the other option is for you. What we’d like to remind you is that being a permanent resident and a U.S. citizen comes not only with certain rights and privileges but also a certain amount of responsibilities to the American soil and American people.