Skip to Content
Services Also Available in Spanish, Portuguese & Thai

Lawful Permanent Residency vs. Citizenship

Permanent Resident Card

In the United States, there are several statuses that people may hold regarding national citizenship. Two of the most prominent statuses are lawful permanent residency and citizenship.

The two statuses sound similar, but they have key differences that set them apart from one another. Read on to learn more.

Lawful Permanent Residency

You may have heard of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) as “green card” holders. These individuals are non-citizens that are legally allowed to permanently reside in the United States.

Lawful permanent residents are allowed the following privileges:

  • Obtain employment without special restrictions
  • Own property
  • Obtain financial assistance at public colleges and universities
  • Join the Armed Forces

In addition, lawful permanent residents are allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship as long as they meet the eligibility provisions.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows foreign nationals to obtain lawful permanent residency status by providing various widespread classes of admission. The classes of admission are as follows:

  • Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens
  • Family-sponsored preferences
  • Employment-based preferences
  • Refugees and asylees
  • Diversity
  • Other


The process for foreign-born nationals to become U.S. citizens is called naturalization. While lawful permanent residents are granted certain privileges that permit them to live in the U.S. relatively comfortably, they are not awarded the same rights as citizens.

Unites States citizens have the following privileges:

  • The right to vote
  • The ability to run for public office
  • Eligibility for federal employment or benefits
  • The ability to travel overseas for extended periods of time
  • Ineligible for deportation
  • The ability to sponsor family members for green cards
  • Take advantage of U.S. tax laws
  • Eligibility for scholarships and in-state college tuition
  • Ability to be a U.S. passport holder
  • Don’t need to give up current citizenship in another country

If you have citizenship goals of your own, the attorneys at Maney | Gordon | Zeller are highly skilled in immigration law and have helped many people just like you. Contact us right away about your case so that we can help you, too.

Call Maney | Gordon | Zeller today at (800) 708-4399 to speak with an attorney about your case.


Our Locations