Are you planning on coming to the United States and staying here for some time? If you’re a foreign national, you can do so by obtaining a Green Card, which is the identification card issued to “lawful permanent residents.” If you come to the U.S. and decide that you don’t want to go back to your home country, you may want to consider pursuing U.S. citizenship. An immigration attorney from our firm can explain the differences and benefits of Green Card status and full American citizenship. Once you’re armed with all of the information, you can decide which pathway is right for you.
Green Card Status vs. Citizenship
If you obtain a Green Card and become a Permanent Resident, it means that you proved to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that you are a person of good moral character who intends to stay in the U.S. for a long time. You would also have to provide the proper documentation to achieve permanent resident status. Some ways people obtain permanent residency in the US:
- By marrying a U.S. citizen.
- Being sponsored by an employer.
- Through asylum or by being a refugee.
- By doing humanitarian work.
Suppose you get your Green Card (permanent resident status), now it’s lawful for you to live and work in the U.S. However, it’s important to realize that having a Green Card does not mean you’re a U.S. citizen. A Green Card holder does not have all of the same rights as a U.S. citizen. One key difference between Permanent Residents and citizens is that Green Card holders are deportable, whereas U.S. citizens are not. For example, if a Green Card holder is convicted of family violence, a drug crime, a fraud-related crime, or a violent felony, he or she can face removal proceedings, but that’s not the case for full-blown American citizens, even if they were born abroad. Regardless if you want to be a Permanent Resident or a U.S. citizen, either way you have to obtain a Green Card before you can pursue U.S. citizenship. If you plan to return to your homeland eventually, it’s probably better to remain a permanent resident, rather than pursuing U.S. citizenship. However, if you get your Green Card and later decide to become an American citizen, you can pursue the path to citizenship.