What is the difference between Green Card and citizenship?

The goal of many migrants arriving in the United States is to secure legal status in the country. In this sense, the residence and citizenship appear as clear objectives, but these are two very different processes. So today we will look at the differences between Green Card and citizenship so that you know which one you should apply for. 

A permanent status guarantees legal stay in the country, but obtaining it is not easy. The U.S. immigration system is extremely complex, and can discourage any migrant. At Urbina Immigration Law we can help you obtain the status you are seeking. Tell us your case and let’s defend together your right to stay in your home.

What are “citizen” and “permanent resident” in the United States?

A U.S. citizen is a person born in the United States or who has obtained citizenship through the naturalization process. In contrast, permanent residents (or Green Card holders) are foreigners who can legally reside and work in the country indefinitely.

Difference between Green Card and citizenship

The main difference between Green Card and citizenship is that citizens enjoy all the rights (and obligations) granted by the Constitution. In contrast, permanent residents, or Green Card holders, have limited privileges, such as living and working legally.

U.S. citizens have all the rights and obligations granted by the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. citizens have all the rights and obligations granted by the U.S. Constitution.

On the other hand, permanent residents may lose their status if they commit certain crimes or remain outside the country without the proper permit. U.S. citizen status, on the other hand, is irrevocable and citizens may leave and enter the country freely with their passport.

Types of U.S. Residents

Another difference between Green Card and citizenship is that there are two different types of U.S. residents. These are:

  • Nonimmigrant residents: These are foreign nationals who are temporarily in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa. This means that they do not have the right to live and work permanently, but may stay in the country for a limited period for specific purposes (study, temporary work, visiting relatives, etc.).
  • Permanent Residents: These are foreign nationals who may remain in the country indefinitely and enjoy almost all the rights of U.S. citizens. In addition, they have certain obligations, such as paying taxes and registering for military service (if necessary).

Please note that each of these types of residency has its own process, which varies from case to case. Therefore, it is important to have the help of an attorney to assist you in choosing the best option for you. At Urbina Immigration Law we can help you. Tell us about your case and let’s take the first step towards your permanent status.

Benefits of being a Permanent Resident

Having a Green Card brings multiple benefits. Some of the most important are:

  • To live and work legally for an indefinite period of time.
  • Retain citizenship of their country of origin (although in some cases citizens may also do so).
  • Bring immediate family members (spouse and minor children) into the country.
  • Right to apply for financial assistance from the government (for educational purposes).
  • Access to security clearances and exemptions from export restrictions.
  • Social Security benefits, supplemental security income and Medicare benefits.

While all permanent residents are eligible for these benefits, the process for obtaining a green card varies on a case-by-case basis. For this reason, it is ideal to have an immigration lawyer to advise you every step of the way. Do not risk your future. At Urbina Immigration Law we can help you. Contact us and take the first step towards permanent residency.

Benefits of U.S. Citizenship

Both U.S. citizens by birth and those who became U.S. citizens through the naturalization process are entitled to the following benefits:

  • Voting rights.
  • The right to apply for a government position.
  • Eligibility for federal employee benefits.
  • Access to the benefits of U.S. tax legislation.
  • Not be subject to deportation.
  • Less restrictions to petition for their relatives abroad.
  • Possibility of obtaining the Green Card for immediate family members.

Please note that the naturalization process is extremely complex and may vary depending on your personal circumstances. Therefore, it is best to seek the advice of an immigration attorney. At Urbina Immigration Law we can help you. Tell us your case and take the first step to live the American dream.

Requirements for U.S. citizenship

Another difference between green card and citizenship is the requirements to apply for one or the other status. To obtain residency, the requirements vary according to the form of access (through a visa or a family petition). On the other hand, the requirements for the naturalization process are as follows:

  • Have lived continuously in the United States for at least 5 years since obtaining their Green Card.
  • Have lived in the USA for at least 30 months of those 5 years.
  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have lived continuously in the United States from the time they filed Form N-400 until becoming a U.S. citizen.
  • Be able to read, write and speak basic English.
  • Pass a test of basic questions about U.S. government and history.
  • Have good moral character that reflects the values of the U.S. Constitution. In this section, USCIS analyzes the naturalization application, the final interview and whether a person has a criminal record.

The naturalization process can be complex and legal assistance is essential to navigate the difficulties. A lawyer can help you gather the documentation and prepare you for the final interview. At Urbina Immigration Law we are here to assist you. Contact us and take the next step towards U.S. citizenship.

How to obtain permanent residency?

Another essential difference between a green card and citizenship is that permanent residency is obtained in several ways. In the following table you will find the different processes and procedures for permanent resident status:

ProcedureDescription
Adjustment of StatusProcess for obtaining permanent residency while in the United States.
Consular ProcessingMethod of obtaining permanent residency outside the United States or when it is not possible to adjust status within the country.
Joint PresentationRequired when applying for residency through employment, family or special immigration. It is the simultaneous filing of the immigrant petition and the application for the permanent resident card.
Visa Availability and Priority DatesA visa must be available to apply for permanent residence. Priority dates indicate when a visa is available and are assigned to immigrants on the waiting list.
Travel DocumentsInformation on traveling outside the United States after applying for permanent residence, and how to obtain advance travel permits or other necessary documents.
Employment AuthorizationEligibility and process to obtain Employment Authorization in the United States.
Immigration Medical ExaminationMost applications for permanent residency require a medical examination. Information on who should be tested and the procedures to be followed.
Affidavit of SupportRequired in most permanent residency applications to determine whether the immigrant has the financial means to live in the United States without the need for government assistance.
Public ChargeImmigrants must demonstrate that they will not be a public charge in order to obtain permanent residency.
Child Status Protection ActThis law allows certain children who have reached the age of 21 after filing an immigration petition to still be eligible for permanent residence through their parents.
Transfer of Underlying BasisProcess for changing the eligibility category of a pending adjustment of status application. It can be requested by submitting a written request to the appropriate USCIS office.

Please note that each category of permanent resident card has different requirements and procedures to follow. Therefore, it is important to seek the advice of an attorney who can guide you to the best option for you. At Urbina Immigration Law we can help you. Tell us your case and take the first step towards your Green Card.

How to obtain U.S. citizenship?

As we have said, a major difference between green card and citizenship is the procedures for obtaining one or the other status. In the case of the naturalization process to obtain U.S. citizenship, you must follow the following steps:

Step 1: Determine Eligibility for Naturalization

First, it is important to verify whether you are a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization and make sure you meet the requirements for U.S. citizenship. You can refer to Form N-600 or N-600K for more information.

Step 2: Download and Complete Form N-400

Once you are certain that you meet the requirements for U.S. citizenship, download and complete Form N-400, making sure to gather the necessary supporting documentation. This form is the first step in the formal application process, so it is important to review it carefully before submitting it.

Step 3: Biometrics Appointment

After submitting Form N-400, you will be required to attend a scheduled appointment to take your fingerprints and photographs. Once this stage is completed, you must wait for notification of your naturalization interview with a USCIS officer.

Step 4: Naturalization Interview

During this interview, the information and documentation provided will be verified, and you will be tested in English and U.S. civics. If you do not pass these tests, you will be required to repeat the interview.

Step 5: Await USCIS Decision

After the interview with the USCIS officer, you will only have to wait for the agency’s decision. The agency will send you a written notice of approval or denial of your Form N-400.

English and civics tests will be administered during the interview.
English and civics tests will be administered during the interview.

It is important to note that this process can be complex and additional situations may arise. For this reason, it is essential to seek the assistance of an attorney. At Urbina Immigration Law, we are here to help you every step of the way. Contact us and take the first step towards U.S. citizenship.

What family members can a U.S. citizen ask for?

A U.S. citizen may bring certain immediate relatives through a family petition. These are:
Spouse.
– Unmarried children under the age of 21.
– Married children or children over 21 years of age.
Parents, if the citizen is at least 21 years of age.
Siblings, if the citizen is at least 21 years of age.

What family members can a permanent resident petition for?

A permanent resident may bring only the following immediate family members:
– Spouse.
– Unmarried children under 21 years of age.
– Married children or children over 21 years of age.

Please note that family members of residents fall into a different preference category than family members of citizens. This implies that the process is faster for the latter. Therefore, it is important to consult with an immigration attorney who can advise you on processing times.

How many family members can I bring to the United States?

Initially, there are no restrictions on the number of people you can sponsor. However, the minimum income required varies depending on the number of people you wish to sponsor.

Can I get a Green Card by marriage?

Yes, you can obtain a green card through marriage to a U.S. resident or citizen. This will allow you to obtain permanent resident status, being able to live and work legally in the country and apply for citizenship after a period of three years.

What is a conditional residence?

Conditional residency is a temporary status granted to individuals who obtain a Green Card through marriage to a citizen or permanent resident. This status implies that the permanent residency is subject to further review after an initial period of 2 years.

During this time, the couple must provide proof that their marriage is genuine. Once the requirements are met, an application can be made to remove the condition to obtain unconditional permanent residence.

Obtaining permanent status, either residency or citizenship, is the dream of most migrants arriving in the country. However, the difference between green card and citizenship is great, and the processes can be extremely changeable and complex. That is why the help of a lawyer can be the difference between success and failure.

Don’t risk your future and that of your family by navigating the U.S. immigration system on your own. At Urbina Immigration Law our professionals are ready to help you obtain the permanent status you need. Tell us your case today and let’s take the first step together towards your new life in the United States.

Sources

USCIS – Permanent Residency Processes and Procedures

USCIS – N-400, Application for Naturalization

Other Resources

How to obtain a Green Card in the United States – Updated Guide

What are the Green Card categories?

Permanent Residence for Victims of Violence or Crimes

What are the requirements for obtaining U.S. citizenship?

Renewal of permanent residency in the United States: steps and documentation

K1 fiancé visa: everything you need to know

Green card by marriage in the United States, in detail

Documents required for the Green Card process by marriage

Juvenile Visa (SIJS) Approved: What’s next? Find out everything you need to know

Family sponsorship limits: How many family members can I bring to the United States?

What are the requirements for family reunification in the United States?