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Permanent Resident Status vs. Naturalization

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Many people are not aware that there are differences between being considered a lawful permanent resident of the United States and having status as a naturalized citizen of the U.S.  Although status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR) confers many benefits, there are crucial differences between the two types of status.  For those with LPR status and their families, it can be helpful to consider the attributes of permanent resident status vs. naturalization as a U.S. citizen.

What it Means to be a Lawful Permanent Resident

Immigrants to the U.S. with identification cards showing their status as lawful permanent residents are sometimes referred to as having a “green card”. A lawful permanent resident has permission to live permanently in the United States and to obtain employment. In addition, someone with LPR status can also petition to have certain family members receive immigrant visas as well. Still, these benefits are expanded for those who have undergone the naturalization process and obtained U.S. citizenship.

Differences in Family Immigration

Although both U.S. citizens and people with permanent resident status may petition to have family members join them as legal permanent residents of the U.S., petitions from citizens receive many advantages over those filed by non-citizens. To begin with, those with LPR status may only file an immigration petition for spouses and unmarried children.

Alternatively, naturalized citizens may file an immigration petition on behalf of not only spouses and unmarried children, but also parents, any married children (and their spouses and children) and brothers and sisters (and their spouses and children.) In addition, immigrant visa applications for immediate family members of citizens receive first preference and are not subject to annual limits.  

Difference in Employment Opportunities

While those with LPR status have the right to obtain lawful employment, the opportunities for naturalized citizens are more numerous. Most jobs with the federal government, which employs well over two and a half million people around the nation, are only open to citizens. Status as an employee can affect jobs with government contractors as well.

The Right to Govern is Limited for LPR Immigrants

People with permanent resident status are welcome to work in the U.S., but to have a voice in the election process, citizenship is required. Non-citizens are also not eligible to vote in most state and local elections, and are restricted from holding many public offices. The process of governing and choosing government representatives is generally considered a privilege of citizenship.

Traveling Abroad Can Be Easier for Citizens

Status as an LPR can be difficult and expensive to obtain, and it is placed at risk every time someone with this status travels outside the U.S. While U.S. citizens may remain abroad indefinitely without the risk of losing entry back into the country, those with LPR status must consider their travel plans carefully. Too long of an absence or certain actions that can be taken as a sign of abandonment of residence may cause an immigrant to lose LPR status. If this occurs, it would be necessary to start the process again.

Learn More About the Differences Between Status as an LPR and Naturalization

There are many additional differences between permanent resident status and citizenship that can affect employment and other areas of life. The experienced attorneys at Hacking Law Practice, LLC could further explain permanent resident status versus naturalization and which immigration path may be best in your case. To get started on your application, call today.

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