Difference Between US Citizen vs Permanent Resident

Difference Between US Citizen vs Permanent Resident

People from different cultures, ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs have settled down in the United States of America. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has established certain parameters to demarcate the two major types of immigrants who are living in the country.

The first one is the US citizen. A ‘citizen’ of the US can generally be a person born, naturalized or owes allegiance to the United States. He or she has US passport to show his or her citizenship status in the country.

All other persons who are not citizens either owe permanent allegiance to their own country or to the US. They are permanent resident of the US. Let’s understand in detail what is the major difference between the two:

1. Who is a US Citizen?

US Citizen” is a person who is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. He or she is therefore entitled to the rights and privileges as such. A U.S. citizen also holds certain rights and responsibilities, such as the right to vote, right to a trial by jury, right against unreasonable searches and seizures. It also includes the right to protection from being held in slavery or involuntary servitude.

2. Who is a Permanent Resident?

The US Permanent Resident is a person having a Green Card, an immigration document granted by the American immigration authorities. He or she gets the legal status of permanent resident and has the right to stay permanently in the country.

To obtain PR status, you must have a valid immigrant visa or have  legal status in the United States. You must be physically present in the U.S. at the time of application and show that you are not financially reliant on others. The application process can take several months to years depending on your circumstances.

3. US Citizen vs Permanent Resident

The main difference between a green card holder vs. a person having US citizenship is that of birth. The green card holder is not a native of the US. He or she has immigrated from a foreign land, seen better career opportunities in the US, and planned to live here forever. On the other hand, a US citizen got citizenship because of being born in the US. One can also get citizenship through naturalization or by adoption by American parents. Based on different factors, there are many differences between a person having a green card and US citizenship. These factors include voting rights, tax obligations, employment and income, etc. Let us check them out.

4. Tax Obligations

U.S. citizens are required to file their income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each year while non-residents only need to pay taxes on their U.S.-earned income. However, they still need to report all income earned overseas on their U.S. tax return. They must file Form 1040NR if they had any foreign source income during the year or received any item(s) of income from sources outside of the United States such as interest payments or dividends from stocks or mutual funds held outside of the U.S.

5. Right to Vote

Voting in local elections (such as school board elections) is allowed for permanent residents, but they are generally not permitted to vote in federal elections unless certain criteria are met.

To vote in federal elections, permanent residents must meet one or more requirements under Section 203(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). To be eligible to vote, one must meet the following requirements: at least 18 years old, a resident within a state or territory, and registered to vote at least 30 days (about 4 and a half weeks) before an election. There is no need to obtain this document if you are a US citizen. If you are above 18, you can vote.

6. Family-Based Immigration

U.S citizens are allowed to petition for certain family members.  It means that applicants applying under the preferences categories have to wait for a longer time. Immediate relatives can be petitioned by permanent residents, including their spouse, unmarried child (under age 21), and parents, under the family preference categories. Family preference cases generally have a large backlog as compared to immediate relatives.

7. Ability to Apply for a Passport

A green card holder has no right to apply for a passport to the US while a citizen can apply for it, highlighting the difference between them.  A permanent resident having a green card needs no passport as he or she can re-enter the US with their green card.

Bottom Line

To summarize, it is important to consult an experienced person in order to fully understand how immigration may affect you. Immigration law is ever-changing and can be difficult to understand, and the rights of a citizen and a permanent resident are very similar but differ in a few important ways. The immigration consultants in Mohali , help you better understand your immigration status, what rights you have and where you stand regarding possible adjustments to your immigration status under current legislation. Get in touch today!