For any person to legally reside in the U.S. that person needs to maintain a legal status. A legal status can be through citizenship, permanent residency or permission from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services via an approved visa. Although each one of the before mention classifications is different from the other one, people often confuse citizenship with permanent residency because they share many similarities. For example, both citizens and permanent residents can work legally in the U.S., obtain U.S. driver licenses, buy homes, and live anywhere across the country and its territories
it is very important, however, to note that a permanent resident (aka green card holder) is in a very different category from a citizen. Both statuses are different in the following ways:
- U.S. citizens are allowed to vote in U.S. elections. Permanent residents or green card holders are not allowed to vote in U.S. elections.
- U.S. citizens can petition for a longer list of foreign nationals than permanent residents can. For example, U.S. citizens can petition for their brothers or sisters.
- It is very hard to revoke citizenship status. Citizenship can only be revoked if it the citizen received the citizenship status fraudulently. On the other hand, a green card holder can get his permanent resident status revoked in multiple ways. This can happen if, for example, the permanent resident commits a serious crime or fraud.
- U.S. citizens can travel abroad with no time restrictions. Meanwhile, a permanent resident cannot travel abroad for longer than 180 days a year. If the permanent resident exceeds this restriction, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can see permanent residents action as an abandonment of status. Therefore, if you are a permanent resident, it is very important that you stay in the U.S..If travel is absolutely necessary, as a permanent resident, you will need to secure travel documents that can show that you are not planning to leave your status.
If you need help or have any questions regarding your permanent resident status, citizenship, or any other immigration related issues, please do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a free 1 hour consultation.