A permanent resident is someone authorized to live and work indefinitely in the United States, following compliance with relevant laws and regulations. A person with this particular status is also called a ‘Green Card’ holder because of the color of the card issued to such permanent residents. This card is also called ‘Form I-551’ or the ‘Alien Registration Card.’ Let us delve deeper and learn more about a permanent resident in the U.S. below.
Benefits of Being a Permanent Resident
A permanent resident in the United States can incur several benefits. The following key benefits contribute to a stable and secure life in the country.
- Having the Legal Rights: A permanent resident will have the legal rights to stay in the country for a long period. It also provides them with a sense of security as well as stability associated with issues like residency and employment processes.
- Accessing Government Services: Permanent residents can access many government services in the country. It includes social security services and other health benefits like Medicare.
- Traveling Freedom: The best part about being a permanent resident is that these people have a green card. This particular card enables them to travel anywhere in the country as per their wishes.
- Getting Citizenship: Permanent residents have green cards, which makes them eligible to apply for citizenship anytime. This particular process is called naturalization. After around five years of residence in the same country, they can go through the process.
- Receiving Protection under the Country Laws: Permanent residents receive protection just like the citizens of the United States. Moreover, these people also have access to the country's legal system. Hence, they can seek legal remedies if they face discrimination or injustice.
- Sponsoring Family Members: A person can sponsor certain eligible family members for permanent residency as a permanent resident in the U.S.
- Obtaining Employment Opportunities: Permanent residents have efficient employment opportunities. They can work in any job in the country without any specific prohibition. They also do not have any restrictions associated with positions that specifically require citizenship.
- Securing Federal Grants and Scholarships: Many federal financial aid programs for education are available to permanent residents. The most common ones include grants and scholarships.
- Collecting Relief from Visa Renewals: Unlike temporary visa holders, permanent residents do not need to worry about visa expirations. They maintain their status till the time when they meet a few conditions.
- Holding Property Ownership: Permanent residents can buy as well as possess property in the country without any restriction or prohibition associated with the ownership.
Limitations in Pursuing Permanent Residency in the United States
There may be several benefits associated with becoming a permanent resident in the United States. However, individuals must also consider certain exceptions and limitations, as mentioned below:
- Criminal History: A person with a criminal record may find it impossible to obtain permanent residency in the U.S. It is because the country does not permit anyone with a history of serious crime to enter the borders. Examples include drug trafficking or other violent crimes.
- Health-related Grounds: Individuals with certain health conditions may be denied permanent residency. It also involves those considered a threat to public health or safety. Examples include a person diagnosed with Ebola virus or coronavirus.
- Public Charge Grounds: An applicant may be denied permanent residency if the U.S. government determines that the person mostly depends on public benefits for all kinds of support.
- Security Concerns: Individuals with links to terrorism cannot become permanent residents in the United States. This particular rule also applies to those people who pose some other kind of security risk to the country.
- Fraud or Misrepresentation: Providing wrong information in any fraud application can result in a permanent restriction to getting permanent residence in the country.
- Removal or Deportation Orders: Individuals with a history of deportation or removal orders may face issues in getting a permanent residency.
- Public Benefits: Recent regulations have restricted the use of public benefits. It is especially related to those seeking permanent residency. So, relying on certain means-tested public benefits can affect one’s eligibility to become a green card holder.
- Financial Sponsorship: Permanent residents may need to meet specific financial criteria to remain in the country. It involves proving they can support the sponsored individual when referencing a family member for a green card.
- Expiring Visas: People in the U.S. with a temporary visa may need to leave the country, too. They apply for a new visa before it expires to avoid legal complications.
- Limited Visa Categories: Some visa categories may have specific eligibility criteria. So, such factors may make it more challenging to get permanent residency.
- Country-specific Limitations: Some countries have annual quotas on the number of visas issued. It results in the applicants waiting for longer periods to achieve their citizenship.
- Refugee or Asylee Status: Those having the mentioned statuses may be subject to certain limitations or requirements when applying for permanent residency.
U.S. Citizenship vs. Permanent Resident
People can get legal status through permanent residents and U.S. citizenship. However, they have different rights as well as responsibilities, which are discussed below:
- It grants complete and equal rights and responsibilities under the country’s law.
- They can apply for federal jobs as well as access government benefits. Not all the benefits are associated with the permanent residents.
- U.S. citizens can never be associated with deportation. Hence, they cannot lose their citizenship status unless obtained fraudulently.
- Citizens are eligible for several financial aid programs, grants, as well as scholarships.
- They can participate in all the democratic processes. So they can vote in both federal as well as state elections.
- Permanent residents have the legal right to reside in the country long-term.
- They have access to certain government benefits. Examples include public education, social security, as well as medicare.
- Permanent residents do not have any restrictions associated with employment positions that require citizenship in the country.
- Green card holders can apply for citizenship through naturalization after meeting specific requirements.
- Permanent residents cannot participate in the voting process of the country.
Key Terms for a Permanent Resident
- I-551 Stamp: A temporary proof of residency put on a foreign national’s support when approved for the green card.
- Naturalization: The legal process by which any non-citizen from other countries can become a citizen of the United States.
- Conditional Permanent Resident: A particular person who has entered the United States as a migrant spouse of a person who is already the country’s citizen.
- A-Number: A unique registration number assigned to a non-citizen by the authorities of a specific country.
- Per-country Limit: The maximum number of immigrant visas issued to applicants from a particular country.
Final Thoughts on a Permanent Resident
A permanent resident status in the United States is for several benefits. The person can be a citizen of the country by renewing their specific residence term within the stipulated time of 10 years in the country. However, a few people may need help with applying for a green card. The best recommendation for them is to approach a lawyer who can look into the matter. The person must make sure to visit a professional attorney who has sufficient experience in this particular field. It will help them overcome all issues and become a permanent resident in the U.S. within a short period.
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