What are the differences between a Green card vs. Citizenship? - GSolex

What are the differences between a Green card vs. Citizenship?

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What are the differences between a Green card vs. Citizenship?

Understanding the difference between both statuses is essential when it comes to deciding to move to the United States. If that is your plan then probably you would want to become a lawful permanent resident. One way to do so is being petitioned for or “sponsored” by a spouse or close family member or an employer. Another way is receiving refugee status or asylum. The most known is winning the diversity visa lottery.


Naturalization is the process that allows green card holders to become U.S. citizens but unfortunately this process might take a few years. Other ways that people can become U.S. citizens include by birth (being born in the U.S. or overseas to a U.S. citizen parent), and living in the U.S. as a child when a parent naturalizes. Nonetheless if you are planning on joining the U.S. military you might immediately acquire citizen status as part of the “U.S. Citizenship Rights for U.S. Military Personnel and Veterans.”

What it means to be a Green Card Holder

The Green Card is an identification document with your name and photo, which receives its name thanks to its characteristic color. The moment you receive your Green Card you become a lawful permanent resident. It is the proof that you can stay permanently, travel and bring some of your close family from overseas, extending your rights to them.

What relatives can you petition as a Lawful Permanent Resident?

According to the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) official website www.uscis.gov you would be allow to bring the following family members:

  • Spouse (husband or wife)
  • Unmarried children under 21
  • Unmarried son or daughter of any age

The basics differences with U.S. citizens are political rights and restrictions to live outside the U.S. for unlimited amounts of time. Also is very important to follow the correct protocols within your status as stated in the USCIS. For example you can lose your residency rights by failing to advise U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of changes in your address or by committing a crime.

Sometimes there is a waiting period before green card holders can start receiving benefits, usually of 5 years, which is why is wise for permanent residents to apply for U.S. citizenship as soon as possible. Surprisingly around a 40 percent of lawful permanent residents choose to keep their Green Card Status rather than applying to become citizens. In the NY Times article “Making Choice to Halt at Door of Citizenship”, Kirk Semple argues that the emotional debate about losing their origins nationalities seems to be in some cases the cause. The other case is the economic issue. The cost of the process is hard to assume for many of these applicants.

What it means to be a U.S. Citizenship

As a U.S. citizen you can petition for more relatives than just the ones you are aloud as a Green Card holder. That is:

  • Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21;
  • Married child(ren) of any age; or
  • Brothers and sisters (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is over the age of 21).

U.S. citizenship means a permanent right to live in the United States as any other citizen born in the country; you will share both rights and duties. You would be subject to the American laws and the constitution. This status provides the security that you won’t be subject of deportation as green card holders can be. Therefore is the status that provides the most stability within the Immigration Law parameters and the process of Naturalization is one that should be done by hiring an immigration attorney in the hope to have the most possibilities in this vital step.


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