What is the Difference Between U.S. Citizenship Status and Legal Permanent Residency?

Legal permanent residents (LPRs) or “green card” holders are non-U.S. citizens who may reside lawfully in the U.S. on a permanent basis. LPRs can engage in any type of employment with no restrictions, receive financial aid at colleges and universities, and even join the U.S. military. LPRs also are eligible to sponsor close family members, i.e. spouses and unmarried children, for green cards.

Despite these benefits, LPRs still do not receive all the same advantages as U.S. citizens. Only U.S. citizens have the right to vote in local, state, and federal elections or hold elected offices. Likewise, LPRs may not serve on juries in federal court cases. Only U.S. citizens are eligible for some public benefits, like Social Security disability insurance and Medicare.

What is the Difference Between U.S. Citizenship Status and Legal Permanent Residency?

One of the biggest benefits of becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen is the immigration benefits. As a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor immediate family members for their green cards, including parents, children, spouses, and siblings. Furthermore, if you have children who were born outside the country, they are likely to be able to obtain citizenship when you become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

If LPRs meet certain requirements, they also can apply to become naturalized U.S. citizens. Those LPRs who are 18 years of age or older, legally obtained their green cards, and have continually lived in the U.S. for five years may apply for naturalization beginning 90 days prior to their five-year residence period. LPRs who are married to U.S. citizens only have a three-year waiting period, and some members of the military may be able to become citizens after waiting as little as one year. It is also important to note that naturalized citizens can maintain dual citizenship, in that they remain citizens of their native countries even after they become citizens.

The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal representation of countless individuals facing various immigration-related issues. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our immigration attorneys today.

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