Difference between U.S. Permanent Resident Status and U.S. Citizenship


US Citizenship vs. US Permanent resident status

There are several ways you can work and stay in the United States but obtaining US citizenship gives you great relief as you won’t be having a fear of deportation. In addition to this, US permanent resident status has its benefit.

If you do not know about the difference between the two. Then in this article, you will get the complete difference between them both. Keep on reading.

What Is a Permanent Resident?

A permanent resident is defined as a legal resident status issued by the USCIS to the eligible application. This allows you to stay and work in the United States for a specified period of time. After acquiring the permanent residents, you will no longer be a tourist, but rather you’ll become a legal alien in the country. Getting the permanent resident US is one step above then just staying in the United States.

After getting the permanent resident US, you can live in the United States for as much as you wish. However, there are several limitations for the permanent resident which you won’t find after obtaining US citizenship.

After five years, the entire permanent resident holder gets eligible to request US citizenship only if they show the good moral character during their stay as a permanent resident.

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What is U.S. Citizenship?

US citizenship is something in which a person holds the United States nationality. The US citizenship might be obtained either by following certain laws or through birth. You will be considered the United States citizen if you are born in the United States or any of its regions. After obtaining the United States citizenship, there will be no fear of deportation. Even foreign national can obtained the US citizenship by meeting the requirements and following the law set by the USCIS. After being a US citizen, you will get complete voting rights and a US passport.

What are the Difference between a Permanent Resident and a U.S. Citizen?

However, both US citizens and permanent residents enjoy great freedom compared to several other migrants and visa holders. Still, several people are not able to evaluate the difference between the two. Here are some of the notable difference between permanent residents and United States citizens:

US Citizenship US permanent resident status
The united states citizenship means the person lawfully becomes the citizenship of the United States. Permanent resident means the person can stay and work in the United States, but will remain the lawful residents for another country (originating country).
After obtaining the United States citizenship you get the voting right to vote in the US elections.

The person after obtain the US citizenship are legitimate US passport holders.

The permanent residents don’t get the privilege of casting their vote.

Immigrants holding US permanent resident status have to continue their home country passports.

US citizen does not have a fear of the deportation from the United States. In some circumstances, the person holding permanent resident status might get deported from the United States (e.g. especially if they are involved in the criminal activities).
The person holding United States citizenship can operate their own office in the public election. Permanent residents do not get the benefit of running their own office in the public election.
After obtaining United States citizenship, the individual gets the right to join the US Armed Forces and defense services. The person holding permanent resident status cannot join the defense services and US Armed forces.
The United States citizen is not restricted to the visa quota to bring their family member to the United States. The Visa quota bounds permanent residents to invite their family members to join them in the United States.
After obtaining US citizenship, you can live in the country abroad for a long time. If you live in the country abroad continuously for more than six months, then you might lose your Permanent residence status.


United states citizen does not require any permit to go for the long trip to countries abroad.


A permanent resident will require obtaining the re-entry permit to go for a long trip abroad.


If you do not know about the re-entry pass you can refer to the complete re-entry pass guide.

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Types of US citizenship

There are several ways through which you can obtain United States citizenship. Few ways are listed below:

  • Citizenship through Birth

As per the United States law, any person who is born in the United States or in any of its territories. They automatically become the United States citizen. However, there are some exceptions for the children of parents who are representing other countries.

  • Citizenship through Acquisition

The second way through which you can obtain US citizenship is through acquisition. However, in some circumstances, a child automatically gets citizenship even if they are born outside the United States. For that, at least one of their parents must be a US citizen when the child was born, and several other conditions should be fulfilled. When the child gets married and has children anytime in the future, they will also get US citizenship by birth. Listed below are some of the ways through a child can become the US citizen by acquisition includes:

Both parents were U.S. citizens

The very first thing is that at the time of birth of the child, both the parents were the US citizen and married at the time of birth and at least one of the parent should be residing in the United States or in any of its territories or both before the birth of the child.

Only one parent was a US citizen.

Other criteria include that at least one parent was the United States citizen when the child was born and the child was born on or after November 4, 1986. The parents were happily married during the child’s birth, and the parents were present in the United States or any of its regions for a minimum of five years before the child birth. They were present for a minimum of two years after his/her 14th birthday.

One parent was a U.S. citizen.

Required that any of the parents was United States citizen during the childbirth, and the child’s birth date was before November14, 1986 but after the October 10, 1952, and the child’s parents were married during the time of birth. US citizen parent were present in the US or in any of its states for a minimum of 10 years before the child’s birth and a minimum of five years after their 14th birthday.

  • Citizenship through Derivation

When the parent adopts his or her children to live with them under the age of 18 will automatically get US citizenship, provided that they will already be US permanent residents. A child who has obtained US citizenship through derivation did not require attending the naturalization ceremony. However, the child born in abroad country and is under the age of 18 automatically gets the US citizenship only if they fulfill the below-mentioned requirements:

  • A child should be the US lawful permanent resident or a green card holder
  • At least one parent of the child should be a US citizen
  • You should be living in the United States in the physical and legal custody of the US citizen parent.

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  • Citizenship through Naturalization

Another way through which foreign nationals can become US citizens is through the naturalization process. Naturalization is defined as the US citizenship process that grants US citizenship to the person who is not born in the United States. For foreign nationals, naturalization is one of the ideal way to obtain US citizenship. There are several criteria that need to be met before applying for citizenship. The applying candidate should be 18 years of age and should meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Should have obtained US permanent resident status continuously for five years
  • Should be a permanent resident continuously for three years and have lived in the marital union with a US citizen spouse for a minimum of three years
  • Should have been qualified for providing U.S. Armed Forces services.

Types of US permanent resident

There are several types of a green card through which you can obtain US permanent resident status:

Employment-Based Green Cards

The first way through which you can obtain US permanent resident status is through the employment-based green card. In this permanent residence process, the applying candidate is sponsored by the United States employer. This permanent resident process undergoes the labor certification process; there might be exceptions in some cases. More than 140,000 immigrants have been provided permanent resident status through employment-based green card every year. Some of the Visa is reserved for several professions like workers who are skillful enough and are highly demanded in the United States.

Family Green Cards

Another way through which you can obtain permanent resident status is through the family-based green card. In this type of green card, the applicants are sponsored by the immediate relatives who currently hold a permanent resident. The family members that can sponsor you include parents, siblings, spouses or children.

Marriage-Based Green Cards

Another way through which you can obtain the permanent resident is through the Marriage-Based Green Cards. Immigrants who marry to the US citizen or the green card holder gets qualified to obtain the permanent resident status depending on his/her marriage.

There are many more ways through which you can obtain permanent resident status to work and live in the United States.

When you are submitting your permanent resident application make sure to hire certified uscis translators to translate your document to English.

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We hope the above given information is sufficient enough in helping to determine the difference between the US citizenship and Permanent resident status. Always remember one thing if you documents is not in English then it always an better choice to hire a certified translation service USA.


Can I travel outside the U.S. as a permanent resident?

Yes, permanent residents are allowed to travel outside the United States, and they are required to show the valid alien registration card to the immigration officer when re-entering the United States. Moreover, the permanent resident can only travel with the valid passport of another country. Make sure you do not stay out of the US for more than a year without a re-entry permit. If you do this, your permanent resident status will be revoked.

Can I vote in United States elections being a permanent resident?

No, you do not get the voting rights as a permanent resident only US citizens are granted to vote in the US elections.

Can I lose my permanent residence?

Yes, if you are involved in any of the crimes or fraudulent activities, you might lose your permanent resident status, and you will be deported from the United States.

As mentioned, if you go for the abroad trip for more than a year, US immigration authorities might assume that you have abandoned your US permanent residency. Therefore, if you do not want to lose your permanent residence status by staying out of the United States for a year, it’s better to apply for the re-entry permit before going for the longer abroad trip.

Can I get American citizenship if I marry an American?

No, if you get married to the US citizen, You will not become a US citizen automatically, but you will get eligible to apply for the United States green card, which is the pathway to US citizenship.

Can I lose my US citizen living abroad?

No, if you go for the abroad trip or live out of the United States for a longer time, you won’t lose your US citizenship. It is one of the benefits of obtaining US citizenship.

Can I stay on a green card forever?

It is not compulsory for the permanent resident status holder to apply for the US citizenship. This means you can stay as a green card holder forever in the US. Being a green card holder you can also get number of benefits and job opportunities.

Is a green card holder a permanent resident?

A green card holder or permanent resident is the one who are allowed to work and live in the United States permanently. If applying candidates fulfill the eligibility criteria, USCIS will provide a permanent resident card, commonly known as a green card.

Do green card holders have to pay taxes?

Yes, green card holders are also required to file the US income tax return just same as paid by the US citizen.

Can a green card holder apply for US citizenship?

After staying in the United States as a green card holder continuously for five years, permanent residents get eligible to request for the US citizenship.

What happens if you fail the citizenship test twice?

In case you get failed in any of the citizenship tests twice, then your US citizenship application through naturalization gets denied. If your application is denied, then you will get a written notice through the mail. Also, you will be guided about how to appeal against the denial of your application.

Does marrying American guarantee citizenship?

If you are getting married to the US citizen, it doesn’t mean that you will be guaranteed to obtain US citizenship or a green card. However, application for marriage-based green cards is checked properly, as the government understands that people in the name of fake marriages are immigrating to the United States.

How can I get permanent residency in the USA?

By applying for a Green Card

In order to obtain permanent residents in the United States, you can apply for the green card. If you meet the eligibility criteria to apply for the green card, you can file the application form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with USCIS, along with the supporting documents and required application fees. After submitting the application, USCIS will review your application and arrange and green card interview for you. After you have received the green card, it is valid for ten years.

How many times can you renew your green card?

You can apply for the renewal or replacement of the green card as many times as you require. However, it is better to apply for the renewal of the green card six months prior to your card’s expiry. You also have the option to apply for the replacement of your green card if you lose it.

How long is a green card valid for?

A permanent resident card is valid for ten years. Although some permanent resident cards, also known as green cards, that don’t have any expiry date but most of them are valid for ten years. However, in case you have obtained the conditional permanent resident status, then it will only be valid for two years.

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