The Green card and the U.S Citizenship both confer rights to immigrants to work and reside lawfully in the country, but they mean two very different things. A lawful Permanent resident (LPR) is a person who can live and work permanently in the U.S and is given a Green Card (a photo ID) to prove their status. The Green card, which is a proof of permanent residence has to be renewed every 10 years, though the permanent residency is valid for your lifetime. This Green card renewal is done to upgrade the security of the card and avoid misuse of the card.
If you are wondering which is the right choice for you, you need to know the difference between both the choices to make a better decision.
Green card Renewal Vs. Citizenship: The costs
You will have to pay a filing fees for both Green card renewal and Citizenship application anyway. At first glance, it may seem like the Citizenship application is much expensive than a Green card renewal, but citizenship is valid for a lifetime and you do not have to pay anymore for renewing the citizenship. Also as the application filing fees has increased dramatically over the past few years, you can expect the same in future. If you choose to keep renewing your Green Card, you will end up paying a hefty sum to the USCIS over the long run.
Green card Renewal Vs. Citizenship: Voting in Federal Elections
As a citizen of the country, you can vote in Federal, State and local elections and also hold elected office. You can also serve as a jury. You can make your opinion count in the functioning of this democratic country.
Green card Renewal Vs. Citizenship: No risk of deportation
Even if you are a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR), you can still be deported from the United States, if you are involved in any criminal activity. As a citizen of this country, you cannot be deported. The only exception to be deported as a U.S citizen would be if you have committed any fraud to obtain your Green Card or Citizenship.
Green card Renewal Vs. Citizenship: Bringing family members to the U.S
As a U.S citizen, you can sponsor your relatives, other than those in the immediate family, for legal status in the country. You can sponsor them for Green card or immigration status in the U.S. Usually citizens are given preference over Green card holders when applying for sponsoring of relatives. Green card holders can only sponsor immediate family members (spouse, unmarried children, parents) to live with them. If you become a U.S citizen before your child reaches age 18, then your children automatically become U.S citizens, regardless of the place of birth. They do not have to go through the process of Naturalization to become citizens.
Green card Renewal Vs. Citizenship: International travelling
As a U.S citizen, you will be issued a U.S passport which makes travelling to many countries easier and visa-free in selected countries. You can travel outside the United States and remain outside the country as long as you wish. There is no restriction on travel for citizens. However, a Green card holder must always prove that they are “legally admissible” in the country when they return from trips abroad. Also a Green card holder may lose their permanent resident status if they stay outside the country for a long time.
Green card Renewal Vs. Citizenship: Federal benefits
As a citizen, you can enjoy all the benefits this great nation has to offer you like social security, medical and welfare benefits. You can hold government jobs, have access to federal grants, scholarships and benefits. Green card holders have limited options for obtaining grants and welfare benefits.
Citizenship entails a lot more rights and benefits than a Green Card Holder. As a U.S citizen, you have the right to vote, receive federal assistance, petition your relatives to immigrate to the U.S and you cannot be deported. You will also be issued a U.S passport, which means you can travel outside the country any time you wish.