Green Card vs Citizenship: Understanding the Key Differences

Table of Contents

Green Card vs Citizenship is a common comparison made by individuals seeking to obtain legal status (to live and work) in the U.S. However, these terms are not interchangeable, as they differ in terms of responsibilities, rights, benefits, and various other factors. In simple terms, permanent residents are not as secure as citizens in the United States. From this article, you will come to know the primary differences between holding a green card and U.S. citizenship.

What is the Difference Between Green Card and Citizenship

Once granted permanent resident status in the United States, an individual is issued a permanent resident card, also known as a green card. This card allows them the privilege of living and working inside the U.S. indefinitely. However, there are some limitations to this status that can affect an individual’s rights and responsibilities.

Recommended to Check: Green Card Holder Benefits and Advantages

On the other hand, U.S. citizenship is permanent and provides increased security and protections from potential misfortunes. While naturalizing as a U.S. citizen can certainly stem from patriotic reasons, there are also significant advantages to doing so.

Recommended to Check: U.S. Citizen Benefits and Advantages

The following table shows you the key differences between permanent residents and U.S. Citizens.

Green CardCitizenship
Cannot vote in federal elections or run for public officeHas the right to vote and run for public office
A Green Card holder can lose status if they violate certain immigration lawsCannot be deported or lose citizenship status
Cannot serve on a juryHas the responsibility to serve on a jury when called upon
Faster and easier to obtain in some casesThe lengthy and complex naturalization process
Green card holders have the ability to apply for visas for their spouses and unmarried children, allowing them to reside in the United States.Obtaining citizenship grants individuals the ability to petition for foreign national spouses, both married and unmarried children, siblings, and other relatives to live in the United States.
Green Card holders are permitted to travel outside of the United States, it is important to note that extended periods of time spent abroad can have an impact on their residential status.U.S. citizens can travel outside of the United States for an extended period without any negative impact on their citizenship.
Green Card Holders have to renew their status after 10 years. They have to repay again for their status.Citizenship is for lifetime and no need to pay again to retain the status.
Green Card Holders are limited to a number of visas to their preference relatives every year and no high priority is provided.Citizens are not limited to several visas for immediate relatives and provide high priority.

When can Green Card Holders Apply for Citizenship?

If you hold a permanent resident status for three or five years you can become U.S. citizen. Depends on each case the number of years get varies. For example, if you got your green card by marrying US citizen spouse it takes three years for you to become U.S. citizen. It will take five years if you obtained green card through employment.

Recommended to Check: How to Become a Naturalized Citizen


In summary, a Green Card and Citizenship are two different statuses that allow foreign nationals to live and work in the United States. A Green Card holder is a permanent resident of the United States, while a U.S. citizen has all the same rights and privileges as a natural-born citizen. Both statuses have their own set of rights and responsibilities, and it’s important to understand the key differences between them before making any decisions about immigrating to the United States.

With ImmigrationDirect, you can rest assured that you will receive assistance in completing your application at every step of the process. Additionally, our online platform allows you to prepare your application conveniently and safely from the comfort of your own home.

Our software provides alerts for any missing information or issues, and presents samples to ensure the submission of the strongest possible case. You can also get a consultation from our immigration lawyer to complete your application.

Not Sure Where to Start?

Check Your Application Status

Scroll to Top
immigration direct logo