There are many important distinctions between being a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States and being a naturalized U.S. citizen. Each status confers different degrees of rights and privileges, and there are restrictions on what lawful permanent residents can do that naturalized citizens are not subject to.
Any questions you have about permanent resident status versus naturalization in Wheaton could be answered during a consultation with an immigration lawyer. Once you understand more thoroughly how these two classifications differ, you can take advantage of your rights under U.S. immigration law more effectively.
What It Means to Be a Lawful Permanent Resident
If someone successfully applies for and receives a green card, they become a lawful permanent resident of the United States. There are many ways in which someone could qualify for the green card application process, but usually, they require sponsorship by either an employer or a family member who is already a legal U.S. resident.
A person with permanent resident status in Wheaton can legally work in the United States, and they can petition for close family members to join them as legal residents. Although, it should be noted that there is currently a significant waiting list for these entrance visas and green cards.
Furthermore, while green card holders are allowed to leave and return to the United States with a valid passport from another country, any extended absence may result in the authorities assuming they have abandoned their U.S. residence, and their green card may be revoked. An LPR may be deported back to their original country of residence if they are arrested for certain criminal offenses as well.
The Benefits of Naturalization as a Citizen
Once a legal immigrant to the United States is naturalized as a citizen, they have nearly all the same rights as a citizen by birth. They are allowed to vote, serve jury duty, exit and reenter U.S. borders at their discretion with a valid U.S. passport, and petition for numerous relatives to immigrate to the United States. They also cannot be deported under any circumstances, unless they are convicted of fraudulent actions in the acquiring of their citizenship or a green card.
Lawful permanent residents in Wheaton may apply to become naturalized citizens after five years of legal residency—or three years, if they are married to a current U.S. citizen—provided they meet certain other criteria, including but not limited to:
- They are 18 years of age or older
- They have physically resided in the U.S. for at least half the time they have possessed a green card, and they have lived in Wheaton specifically for at least the last three months
- They can read, write, and speak English
- They have a thorough understanding of basic U.S. history and government
- They have “good moral character” in the view of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
A qualified immigration lawyer could help an LPR determine their eligibility for the naturalization process.
A Wheaton Attorney Could Answer Questions About Permanent Resident Status and Naturalization
While lawful permanent residents and naturalized U.S. citizens are very similar, they differ in several ways. Despite its name, permanent residency is not actually permanent under all circumstances, whereas naturalized U.S. citizens are citizens for life unless they expressly choose to forgo that privilege.
Whether you want to understand your own legal rights or just want to know what your options are for bringing family members into the United States legally, learning all the ways in which permanent resident status and naturalization differ in Wheaton can be very helpful. To discuss your situation in detail with a professional legal advocate, call today to schedule a consultation.