There are important differences between an American citizen and a lawful permanent resident. The Green Card allows foreigners to live and work

legally in the United States, but there are rights that are exclusive to American citizens only. Citizens enjoy privileges such as:

  1. Voting in national elections.
  2. Having more options when looking for a job. Jobs for residents are limited. Only citizens can find jobs at federal agencies like USCIS and ICE, among others.
  3. Having the opportunity to become a representative of the citizens.
  4. Being able to be a juror at civil or criminal trials.
  5. Requesting the permanent residency for their immediate family (in this case, the procedures are faster than when the request is made by a resident).
  6. Living abroad with no time limit. Residents must not stay longer than allowed, because they may lose their residency.
  7. Never losing their right to live in the United States, even if they have committed criminal acts. Residents, on the contrary, may be deported.
  8. Not having to renew their citizenship documents. The Green Card, instead, must be renewed. A person can lose his or her citizenship by naturalization only in extreme cases (being a member of an army that attacks the U.S., for example).
  9. Being allowed to have dual nationality. The United States does not demand that its naturalized citizens give up their original citizenship. Nevertheless, the immigrant’s country of origin may demand that they give up their nationality if they swear loyalty to the United States.
  10. Requesting a visa for their foreign fiancés.
  11. Social benefits like Food Stamps and Medicaid are different for citizens and for residents.


All young male citizens and residents are obliged to register with the Selective Service.