Green Card vs Citizenship – Difference Between Green Card and Citizenship

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 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.

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


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.

  • 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.

What is Green Card?

Green card meaning is that 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 and permanently move to the United States must 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.


Green Card vs Citizenship – Key Differences

The key difference between Green Card and Citizenship is that 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.

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