Difference Between Green Card and Citizenship

By K Balaji|Updated : November 28th, 2022

The major difference between green card and citizenship is that a green card holder is a person who has been given permission to live and work in the United States permanently while preserving their citizenship of their home country. According to U.S. immigration law, citizenship is the highest status that can be awarded, and it grants the permanent right to reside in the country.

Difference Between Green Card and Citizenship PDF

Many people aspire to work and live in foreign countries, especially the U.S. However, they are generally confused about the different statuses. Many people believe that permanent citizens and citizenship are the same. However, there is a difference between green card and citizenship. Let us discuss the difference between green card and citizenship along with other related information.

Difference Between Green Card and Citizenship

Both green card holders and U.S. citizens share a common benefit of working and living in the U.S. for their entire life. However, there are several difference between Green Card and Citizenship in the rights and benefits. It is important for people willing to permanently move to the U.S to know about these differences.

The significant difference between Green Card and Citizenship are mentioned in the table below.

Green Card vs Citizenship

Difference Between Green Card and Citizenship

Green Card

Citizenship

Green Card holders have no right to vote.

People having U.S. citizenship have the right to vote.

Green Card holders are not eligible for Federal Employee benefits.

People having U.S. citizenship are eligible for Federal Employee benefits.

There is a risk of deportation.

There is no risk of deportation. Citizenship can be revoked only in case of fraud.

Green card holders do not have a U.S. passport. They travel on their home passport and green card.

U.S. citizens get a U.S. passport after application.

Spouses and children can immigrate with several limitations.

Spouses, parents, children, and siblings can immigrate with few limitations.

Green Card holders can enlist in some branches of the US military, but they cannot work for any federal agencies that accept applications from only US citizens.

Citizenship grants the ability to work and apply at any US government office and military services.

Green Card and Citizenship

The capacity to live and work continuously in the United States is one of the many rights that both legal permanent residents (green card holders) and citizens can take advantage of. The people having U.S. citizenship, however, receive several significant advantages over green card holders.

Green Card

Green card holders are provided with a photo identity card that is green in color. Green card holders should carry this card along with their country passports for traveling. People who want to legally move to the United States permanently need to apply for a Green card. Green card holders can be deported in case of the following:

  • they are out of the country for more than a year.
  • if they commit a crime.
  • if they fail to inform the government of an address change.

Permanent residents (Green card holders), however, do not possess a US passport or the right to vote; they continue to be considered citizens of their country of origin. A year spent outside the country can potentially put them in removal procedures and put them at risk of deportation. People are eligible to apply for a green card if they fit in any of the following categories:

  • Have close relatives as U.S. citizens.
  • A company-preferred employee.
  • Special immigrants.
  • Through the annual diversity Green card lottery.
  • A long-time resident of the U.S.

Citizenship

A person can become a US citizen by being born there, having US citizen parents, or by going through the naturalization process. Those who immigrated to the US and were born abroad are eligible for naturalization. They can submit a citizenship application once they are granted permanent resident status.

Unlike the green card, U.S. citizenship is given to a person born in the United States of America. Green card holders can apply for U.S. citizenship only after 5 years of living there, whereas U.S. citizens can stay for an indefinite period of time. The benefits of being a U.S. citizen are mentioned below.

  • Your right to vote is granted.
  • You are now qualified to receive federal employee benefits.
  • You receive benefits from the US tax law.
  • Deportation won't be applied to you.
  • Your family members are welcome to travel to the US with you.
  • You can sponsor members of your family to get Green Cards.

Key Difference Between Green Card and Citizenship

Some of the key difference between Green Card and Citizenship are listed below:

  • Lawful permanent residents or Green card holders are people who apply for green cards when they fit into specific categories. On the other hand, U.S. citizens are people born in the U.S.
  • People with Green card and citizenship enjoy several benefits and rights. One of the important rights applicable for both green cards and citizens of the United States is the permanent right to live and work in the country. However, some benefits do not apply to green card holders or lawful permanent residents.
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FAQs on Difference Between Green Card and Citizenship

  • The difference between Green Card and Citizenship is that Green card holders can be deported from the country in cases of living out of the country for more than a year, involvement in crime or inability to inform a new address to the government; whereas citizens of the U.S. are rarely deported

  • No. There is no difference between Green Card and Citizenship based on their rights to live and work in the U.S. Both Green Card holders and U.S. citizens have the right to work in the U.S.

  • The benefits of Green Card holders and U.S. citizens are provided below.

    • Own or lease real estate in the U.S.
    • Obtain a driving license.
    • Visit public universities and colleges.
    • Acquire bank accounts.
    • Get a social security number because you'll need it to submit a job application.
  • Yes, a holder of a green card is eligible to apply for and get US citizenship under certain conditions. A person can become a US citizen if they have held a security card for at least three to five years or owing to military requirements

  • The major difference between Green Card and Citizenship is based on the right to vote. Green card holders do not have the right to vote, while U.S. citizens have the right to vote

  • A green card is a type of resident identification that the US government issues to someone who has chosen to live and work permanently in the country. It serves as an ID card. In contrast, a person who belongs to a certain state or region is recognized as having citizenship under the custom or law of a sovereign state or local jurisdiction.

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