Under U.S. immigration law, there are two statuses that allow a person to obtain long term residence and the ability to work the U.S. These two statuses are the permanent resident status and citizenship status. The difference between status as a “permanent resident” and citizenship can have a major impact on a person’s life. While “permanent resident” status might sound as good as citizenship, there are many advantages to obtaining full citizenship that make it a worthwhile option. Below is a short introduction to the difference between permanent resident status and citizenship.

Permanent Residence

Obtaining permanent resident status in the U.S. is often one of the necessary steps people take on the path to citizenship. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways a person can qualify for permanent resident status, including qualifying through a family member, through a job, or even through refugee or asylum status. According to the Department of Homeland Security, there were approximately 1 million legal permanent residents living in the US in 2013 with roughly half of them being newly admitted permanent residents.

A Permanent resident has the legal right to live in the U.S. for unlimited amounts of time. This does not mean, however, that the status comes without restrictions. There are many requirements a permanent resident must adhere to in order to keep his status as a permanent resident. Should a person violate one of those requirements, he would be at risk of losing his permanent resident status. In addition, there are several benefits available to citizens that are not available to permanent residents.


As the highest status a person can attain under U.S. immigration law, it is only natural that citizenship comes with the most protections. Generally, a person must hold permanent resident status for at least five years before they can apply for the naturalization process. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule that can speed up the naturalization process.

As a citizen, a person can enjoy not only the full protection of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the protection of other U.S. laws, but also the full benefits that come with being a citizen. Some benefits of citizenship include:

-Voting rights

-Eligibility for Federal employment/benefits

-Ability to travel abroad for extended periods of time without having to worry about difficulties on reentry

-Protection from deportation

-Automatic citizenship for Lawful Permanent Resident child under 18

-Eligibility for more types of student aid

-Eligibility to participate in a Federal Jury

-Eligibility for US tax law benefits

-Ability to run for public office

In addition to all of these benefits, an applicant can also choose to retain their prior citizenship when they go through the naturalization process. While the Oath of Allegiance does contain a portion requiring applicants to renounce all other citizenships, applicants do have the option of omitting that portion of the oath, which allows them to have dual citizenship.

Call an Orlando Immigration Attorney

Working with U.S. immigration laws can be complex and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are considering becoming a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen, contact Attorney Hall at The Law Office of Natalie D. Hall, PA, for a case evaluation.