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What are your rights as a permanent resident?

Once you settle into life in America, you may wonder if being a permanent resident has any similar legal rights to being a citizen.

Learning about how close they are can help you make the most of your time here.


According to FindLaw, you can build a life here by using many public services. The ability to have and use a driver’s license, own a firearm, and attend a public school are all legally allowed. Medicare and Social Security benefits are also available to you as a permanent resident.

You may also work legally in any job, as long as it does not require citizenship, and own property. Traveling for a short period of time is fine, but you should take note of how long you will be away from the United States in case your visa is set to expire. Lengthy visits are typically prohibited, and there are exceptions for anyone with a criminal history.


Many places allow you to vote in local elections that impact your daily life. You are not eligible to vote in all state or federal elections, however. Learning the qualifications ahead of time can help save you time and energy.

As long as you are in the United States, the same laws that protect citizens protect you. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, no individual or business should use discriminating tactics due to your race, creed, or national origins. This can apply to various services, such as health care or housing. Even as a permanent resident, you have an entitlement to these freedoms.