Keen to work and live in the US for the long term but not ready to take the leap to commit to changing your citizenship just yet? Well, permanent residence (PR) is probably the next best option for someone like you! With permanent residence, you will be granted the lawful status to live and work in the US for a longer duration – meaning no more hassles of renewing your work visas or travel visas every so often. Additionally, for people keen on US citizenship, it is also an important steppingstone.
What is a Permanent Resident in the US?
In the US, permanent residency is often synonymous with obtaining a “Green Card”. It also officially known as the “Permanent Resident Card”.
Permanent residents compared to full-fledged citizens, remain citizens of their original countries. It hence do not enjoy the full suite of benefits accorded to citizens. However, there are still plenty of perks of being a Green Card holder.
Read on to learn about the various benefits and limitations of the popular US Green Card.
Benefits of being a US Permanent Resident
You have quite a few privileges as a US permanent resident compared to normal travellers on tourist or work passes. Here are some of the top few benefits of US permanent residency as an immigration and visa alternative:
- No requirement to renounce citizenship – allowing you the necessary time to make this difficult decision for the future
- Able to sponsor other family members (from spouses, children, parents, and more) for visas to enter the US or even for a Green Card.
- The federal and local laws of the US and local jurisdiction can protect you.
- Being a Green Card holder allows you to apply for citizenship after 5 years.
- You will be able to travel more easily domestically across states also abroad compared to other classes of visa holders.
- Eligibility for government benefits ranging from education financial aid, cheaper tuition rates, and even social security.
- Able to apply for a wider variety of job opportunities compared to work visa holders. e.g., no limitations on government roles
- Only required to renew it every 10 years compared to work visas which tend to be valid for one year.
Limitations of being a US Permanent Resident
While it seems like being a US permanent resident comes with plenty of perks, there are some limitations and corresponding responsibilities that you should also take note of:
- Like any full-fledged US citizen, you will be required to file your annual income taxes accordingly
- You have to always have a valid (non-expired) Green Card with you at all times to prove your legal immigration status – or risk being jailed.
- Unfortunately, without citizenship, you will not be eligible to vote nor own a US passport
- Compared to citizens, you will not be able to obtain citizenship for your children not born within the country
- There is no guaranteed protection from deportation even with a Green Card – if you commit crimes or violate the law, you could still be subject to deportation.
How to Get Permanent Residency in the US?
There are several different routes you can go about to apply for a Green Card. 3 of the most common categories for application for permanent residence include:
- The Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program – suitable for immigrants from diverse countries. However, there is only a limit of 50 thousand visas awarded annually via a random lottery.
- Employment-Based Immigration – suitable for employees already working in the US for a US employer on a work visa.
- Family-Based Immigration – suitable for immigrants who have family or relatives who are existing US citizens, Green Card holders, or in the US military.
After the self-petition or petition submission by your family member or employer, you will need to await your priority date. When you be notified to submit a set of application forms to either the US consulate in your country, or to the USCIS if you are already in the US.
Following which you need to attend an interview where the officer will go through your application. If everything works out, you will receive a visa to enter the US or a letter of approval to confirm your new status!
Tip: Prepare ahead as the process takes an average of 6 to 33 months depending on the individual.
Becoming a US permanent resident is an uphill task, but definitely, a worthwhile effort if you plan to stay in the US for the long term.
Moving to the US soon? Find out more about life in the US and what to expect in our US country guide!
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