The United States is one the most popular countries for those seeking green cards. Getting a green card and obtaining citizenship are big steps for immigrants moving to the United States. Both of these actions can greatly expand your rights and open new doors of opportunity.
If you are thinking about coming to the United States as a permanent resident or changing your status to a full-fledged citizen, you are likely curious about the benefits you will receive. No matter your age or family relation, a green card is possible for those living outside the U.S. Of course, the green card process requires a lot of time and money to complete, but the benefits and rights are well worth it.
What Is a Green Card?
Simply put, a green card allows someone to live and work in the United States permanently and legally. Additionally, a green card holder has all the same benefits that a U.S. citizen has, to a certain extent.
These green cards can be obtained by holding a legal job in the U.S., being sponsored by a close family member, or by winning the green card lottery through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.
Each year, the United States issues more than one million green cards. Furthermore, around 13 million individuals in the country are green card holders and hold permanent resident status. Green card benefits are plentiful, but what rights does a green card grant?
Along with a green card come various benefits of being a citizen of the U.S., which will be explained more below.
Benefits of Having a Green Card
Holding a green card comes with countless benefits. Of course, working and living in the United States permanently are beneficial enough, but there are more things one can do while being a legal green card holder.
Some of the additional green card holder benefits include:
- No instance of deportation: This is important for many permanent residents of the U.S. because unless something illegal is done, there is no risk of being deported. U.S. green card holders maintain resident status and cannot be revoked with changes to immigration laws.
- No need to renounce other citizenships: As an immigrant and a permanent U.S. resident, there is no need to lose your country of origin’s citizenship.
- You have green card holder constitutional rights: A large benefit of having a U.S. green card is that you will receive the same protections under the law that all other U.S. citizens hold.
- The ability to sponsor other family members outside the U.S.: Your family members will be prioritized over other subcategories of green card holders. Luckily, green card holders can sponsor for their family members include your spouse, children under 21 with unmarried status, and Unmarried son or daughter of any age.
- Travel in and out of the U.S. easily: “Can one travel with a green card?” is a widespread question that gets asked. Like a U.S. citizen, you can easily travel in and out of the country. You can easily come and go if you stay out of the country for less than 12 months.
There are a few benefits for green card holders over the age of 65. The first benefit is that Medicare for green card holders becomes available. This means that if you are a legal U.S. citizen over the age of 65, you can receive Medicare.
However, those over the age of 65 may not be entitled to Social Security benefits. The Social Security benefits for green card holders over 65 will only be available for those who have accumulated 40 work credits. These work credits will depend on if the individual has worked in the country for a total of 10 years prior to retirement.
Rights of Green Card Holders
Becoming a green card holder opens many doors to immigrants coming to the United States. If your hope is to become a U.S. citizen, you must first acquire a green card. Obtaining permanent resident status will provide you with many rights not available to people in the country on a temporary visa.
Right to Live Permanently in the U.S.
As implied by the title of permanent resident, obtaining a green card means that you have the right to live permanently in the United States. However, while many people do live out decades of their lives as green card holders, this status isn’t actually permanent for everyone. Certain actions that violate the Citizenship Clause can result in a loss of your status and deportation.
However, as long as you follow the rules, you can continue to renew your green card every ten years for as long as you like.
Right to Legally Work in the U.S.
In addition to receiving the right to live in the U.S., a green card gives you the right to work here. Not only are you allowed to work, but the U.S. Constitution will protect you from discrimination during hiring and in the workplace.
However, while you do have the right to work, permanent resident status does not give you the right to work at any job. Some jobs are reserved for U.S. citizens. These jobs are typically federal government jobs.
Right to Be Protected by U.S. Laws
Permanent residency also provides you with protections under federal, state, and local laws. As a permanent resident, you will receive the same protections as U.S. citizens.
Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression
Another right you will receive as a U.S. permanent resident is the right to free speech and expression as outlined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Right to Free and Unperturbed Media
Also covered under the First Amendment is the right to free and unperturbed media. This law prohibits the suppression of free speech in the media. It also assures that those living within the United States have unobstructed access to all news and media outlets.
Right to Worship Religion in a Free Setting
Another critical right protected by the First Amendment is the right to freely practice religion. The First Amendment not only gives you the right to practice religion freely, but it also protects you from having the religious beliefs of others imposed on you. The separation of church and state enables you to avoid religious teachings in public establishments.
Right to a Fair Trial
The Constitution will also assure you of a right to a fair trial. This right is covered under the Sixth Amendment and can protect you if you face criminal charges or a civil lawsuit.
Green Card Holder Responsibilities
Along with the green card holder rights you are granted as a U.S. green card holder, there are also citizenship responsibilities that one must uphold. For example, here are some green card rights and responsibilities that one should carry out.
- Like all U.S. citizens, a green card holder must file and pay income tax to the IRS.
- You must obey all laws of the United States and follow state laws when applicable.
- Green card holders that are between 18 and 25 must register for the selective service. However, it’s important to note that a military draft has not occurred since 1973.
- You must always carry your green card because failure to show it if requested can result in 30 days of jail time.
- Like all U.S. citizens, green card holders are not allowed to engage in any attempt to change government forms via illegal matters.
Limitations of Green Cards
With all the benefits that green card holders are entitled to, there are some limitations to a green card. Many green card holders ask the question if their green card makes them a citizen. When all is said and done, green card holders are fully entitled to every single right and responsibility that a U.S. citizen is.
The similarities come very close, but there are a few limitations. Some common questions that come up when talking about the green card limitations are if a green card holder can vote or if someone can stay in the U.S. on a green card forever.
Here are some limitations that a green card in the U.S. includes:
- Green card holders don’t have the right to vote
- Not being allowed to run for political office
- Not being issued a U.S. passport
- A green card must be renewed every ten years
- Having non-transferrable green cards means that citizenship is not automatically extended to children who are born outside of the U.S.
Begin Your Green Card Process Today!
Getting a green card and receiving all the benefits of being a green card holder in the U.S. can sometimes be complicated. However, this shouldn’t turn you away from starting the application process. A green card application will require plenty of time and money, so ensuring you complete the application correctly the first time is important.
Seeking help from experienced agencies can make or break your application. Luckily, ImmigrationDirect is here to help. Immigration paperwork has never been easier with our help. For more information, contact us today. Don’t wait any longer to get started because there are many benefits to be had from becoming a U.S. citizen.