In the vast landscape of immigration to the United States, two common terms often surface: U.S. green card and U.S. citizenship.
While both provide pathways for individuals from around the world to live in the U.S., they represent distinct legal statuses with varying privileges and responsibilities.
U.S. green card: A gateway to residence
A U.S. green card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a coveted document that signifies an individual’s lawful permanent residence in the United States. Obtaining a green card allows someone to live and work in the country indefinitely. This status is typically granted through family sponsorship, employment opportunities, refugee or asylum status or various humanitarian programs.
However, it is important to note that holding a green card does not grant the same rights as U.S. citizenship. Green card holders are permanent residents, not citizens, and must adhere to certain rules to maintain their status. For instance, they must renew their green cards every 10 years and are subject to deportation if they engage in certain criminal activities.
U.S. citizenship: The pinnacle of legal status
U.S. citizenship, on the other hand, is the highest legal status one can achieve in the United States. While a green card provides residence, citizenship offers a deeper connection to the country. Naturalized citizens enjoy the privilege of voting in federal elections, holding public office and obtaining a U.S. passport for international travel. Unlike green card holders, citizens are exempt from deportation and have the right to petition for family members to join them in the U.S.
In 2022, 1,018,349 people obtained a U.S. green card. Although it does not come with the same rights as citizenship, it offers people a chance to live and experience life in the U.S.