There are many important differences between an American citizen and a legal permanent resident in terms of rights. The Green Card allows a foreigner to live and work legally in the United States, but it does not grant him or her the rights of an American citizen.

A citizen has the right to:

  1. Vote in national elections.
  2. Access to certain jobs.
  3. Be elected representative of the citizens.
  4. Act as jury in civil or criminal trials.
  5. Request the permanent residence for direct family members in more cases and faster than Green Card holders. Remember that, in order to do this, citizens must be at least 21 years old.
  6. Live abroad without time limit. Residents do have a time limit and cannot overstay, otherwise they may lose their residence permit.
  7. Be criminally liable when they commit crimes without losing the right to live in the U.S. Residents may be deported.
  8. Have their citizenship for life. It does not have to be renewed and it is only lost in very specific cases.
  9. Have a dual nationality.
  10. Request a visa for their foreign fiancé(e).
  11. Have certain social benefits regarding food stamps and Medicaid.  

What Do Residents and Citizens Have in Common?

Citizens and legal permanent residents share an obligation: to register for the Selective Service.