When we are thinking about Immigration, we might feel overwhelmed. There are many processes, terms, and forms we might not understand. Here at The Law Offices of Connie Kaplan, P.A., we always try to make it easy for you. Today we want to tell you the Differences between being a U.S. Citizen and a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident.
We intend to provide general guidance on issues related to Immigration Law; they are not legal advice. Please consult a lawyer if you need specific legal advice.
What is a lawful permanent resident?
When you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR), the government has allowed you to stay permanently in the United States. LPRs include people who have the right to work in America for most employers or themselves. They continue to be citizens of their countries of origin.
You receive an identification document called a Green Card. They can use their Green Card to prove employment eligibility and to get a Social Secu¬rity number.
If I am a Legal Permanent Resident, can I travel outside the U.S.?
If you’re a permanent U.S. citizen, you must always carry your Green Card when traveling abroad. It would help if you also had an unexpired foreign government-issued photo I.D. If you’re returning from abroad, each trip back to the United States may be considered a new application for admission into the country.
If I am an LPR, Am I allowed to vote in U.S. elections?
No. Only citizens of the United States are allowed to vote in elections.
Can I lose my permanent residence?
Yes. If you violate laws or commit serious offenses, you can be deported from the United States.
If you stay out of the country for an extended time, the immigration authorities may scrutinize your situation to see whether you’ve given up your intention to become a permanent resident of the United States. Any absence of one year means you’ve given up your right to be considered a permanent resident. It’s tough to get back into the good graces of the immigration authorities after they’ve made their decision.
If you’re planning to travel abroad for an extended period, you might want to apply for a re-entry visa before leaving. Re-entry visas are usually valid for two years, and they don’t necessarily mean that you will get permission to enter the United States, but they can help establish your intent to live here permanently.
What happens if my green card expires?
You must file an I-9 form to renew your alien registration cards before their expiration dates. You need to file Form I-751 if you’re a conditional permanent resident.
Can Legal Permanent Residents sponsor family members?
Yes. You can petition for your spouse and unmarried children to become permanent residents if they meet specific requirements. However, because there are limited numbers of immigrant visa spots available each fiscal period, your family member(s) will most likely wait several years before entering the U.S. and even longer before receiving a green card.
How can I become a U.S. Citizen?
Permanent residents who live in the United States for at least 3 out of 5 consecutive year periods may apply to become U.S. citizens through a naturalization application.
You are also required to have the following:
- A Good moral character
- The Ability to read, write and speak English
- Understand U.S. history and government
- Have lived continuously in the U.S. as a permanent resident for at least five years
What are some of the differences between being an LPR and a U.S. citizen?
- If you’re a U.S. citizen, you can apply for a U. S. passport from the U.S. state department. Some foreign governments offer visas for U.S. travelers.
- If you’re a U.S. citizen, you can enter and exit the country at any point without being subject to the ground of inadmissibility. You don’t need to stay out for certain days before returning.
- Citizens of the United States can vote in U. S. federal and local elections; they may be eligible for some government jobs and services, and they may serve on juries. Some national and most states government programs are open only to U.S.-citizen residents.
- U.S. citizens have the security clearance required for some jobs.
- You can petition for your family members with a bit more ease.
- U.S. citizens cannot be deported from the United States unless they committed fraud or made a misrepresentation to obtain their green card or citizenship.
You should never take Immigration lightly. That’s why we always advise you to hire an experienced Immigration Attorney that can help you achieve your goals. Having someone on your side who understands the law can make all the difference in your case. At The Law Offices of Connie Kaplan, P.A., we always look forward to meeting with you.