Oftentimes, most people interchangeably use “permanent resident” and “citizen”, but there is a lot of difference between the two. While a naturalized citizen of the United States enjoys every right offered by the US constitution, Green Card holders on the other hand enjoy limited benefits.  So, what does acquiring a green card and the US citizenship mean and how do the two differ from each other?

Green Card

Having a Green Card legally allows you to live and work in the US as a permanent resident without all the complications and bureaucracy. Meaning, you are a legal resident in the country and no longer a tourist. As a Green Card holder, there will be no restrictions in visiting all the 50 US states. However, permanent residents still remain citizens of their originating country– holding their original passports. 

Green Card Privileges

1. Maintain status as a permanent resident since green cards can not be revoked with potential changes to immigration laws. Green cards can be renewed every 10 years.

2. Easy entry to the United States of America without being denied by immigration officials.

3. Sponsor family members such as spouses and children for a green card and reside in the US.

4. Eligibility to receive federal benefits such as social security benefits, supplemental security income, Medicare benefits, and student loans.

5. Educational assistance such as reduced university tuition fees by as much as 80%.

6. Greater job opportunities such as working in security clearances or government agencies.

7. Legal protection by the United States laws, state of residence, and local jurisdiction.

8. Apply for US citizenship after 3 or 5 years of living in the United States.

US Citizenship 

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction, are considered citizens of the US and of the State wherein they reside. If you are a permanent resident in the US for a few years, carrying your green card all the time can be simple but a great challenge once you fail to do so. This is where having a US citizenship becomes more powerful.

US Citizenship Privileges

1. Reduced risk of deportation once you commit certain crimes or acts that match grounds of deportability. 

2. Obtain an American passport for easier travel around the world and reentry to the US. Also,  you may seek help from the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad if you became a victim of a crime or need help during emergencies or disasters.

3. Ability to vote and run for public office

4. When you become a citizen of the US, your children are too

5. Sponsor more family members including parents, siblings, children, spouses, and other immediate family members

6. Gain access to more jobs since employers often prefer to hire citizens over non-citizens.

7. Apply job within the federal government

8. Lesser estate taxes and may be eligible for more tax exemptions.

9. Once you become a US citizen, you now have access to almost all the legal rights and opportunities enjoyed by native-born U.S. citizens.

While having a green card gives you a handful of benefits in the US, becoming a US citizen is far greater, especially if you intend to stay in the United States for the long term. For most green card holders, citizenship is the logical step. But it is still up to your long term plans if you wish to be a citizen in the United States since aside from the privileges, citizenship comes with big responsibilities you have to prepared for.

 Written by Karisma Primero

Karisma Primero

Karisma Primero is a Digital Marketing Intern of PS Media Enterprise and currently a 3rd year Broadcasting student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines - Manila.

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