Difference Between Green Card and Citizenship - Green Card vs Citizenship

By K Balaji|Updated : January 27th, 2023

The major difference between green card and citizenship is that a green card holder is a person who has been permitted 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, granting the permanent right to reside in the country. 

Difference Between Green Card and Citizenship PDF

Many 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 are a few notable difference between green card and citizenship that is clearly explained in this article.

Table of Content

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 Citizenship and Green Card 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 service.

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. However, U.S. citizens receive several advantages over green card holders.

What is Green Card?

Green card holders are provided with a photo identity card that is green in colour. Green card holders should carry this card along with their country passports for travelling. 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 have been 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.

However, permanent residents (Green card holders) 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 into 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.

What is Citizenship?

A person can become a US citizen by being born there, having US citizen parents, or 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 indefinitely.

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 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 cards 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.

  • The benefits for 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.
  • A green card holder can get U.S. citizenship under characteristic requirements and eligibility. To become a U.S. citizen, you must own a Permanent Resident (Green) Card for a minimum of five years or at least three years if you are applying as the spouse of a U.S. citizen.

  • 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 citizenship gives its citizens the right to vote in US elections.

  • 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.
  • A green card holder can legally reside and work in the country. However, the green card holder can get permanent citizenship after several years. Some of the other disadvantages of a green card are:

    • The card is not transferable.
    • You have a lower preference than U.S. citizens when subsidizing family partners for green cards.
    • You cannot obtain a U.S. passport.
    • You cannot vote in U.S. elections.
  • No. There is no difference between Green cards and Citizenship based on their rights to live and work in the U.S. But Green Card holders can join specific units of the United States Military but cannot join those Federal Agencies that allow only a U.S. citizen to apply.

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