APPLYING FOR A PERMANENT RESIDENCE
If you’re applying for a Permanent Residence Card, you are in fact applying for a Green Card. To do so, that is, to qualify for permanent residence, you must first check whether you are eligible under one of the acceptable categories as listed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
The ways that you could apply for a Green Card could be through a relative who is a U.S. citizen, through employment, applying under the status of a special immigrant/refugee/asylee and several other routes. There is also the option of participating in the DV Lottery
A Permanent Residency card indicates that one is legally and permanently residing in a country and specifically to the U.S., can live and work there. It should also be noted, the having a Green Card brings you one step further to becoming an American .
PERMANENT RESIDENT VS CITIZEN
People often misuse these two terms – though they mean very different things. While it is true that both grant the right to live and work in the U.S., one should know how they differ. For instance, not every citizen is necessarily a permanent resident and vice versa. Permanent Residency indicates that a person lives in a country, but they may have a citizenship of a different country.
In the U.S. there are limitations as to the rights that permanent residences have. For instance, a permanent resident cannot vote. Furthermore, you may lose your permanent residency if prosecuted – while it is very hard, or rather close to impossible, to lose your citizenship.
WHO CAN BECOME A US CITIZEN?
There are several circumstances under which a person can be a U.S. citizen. The first, naturally, is by being born in America. You can also become a U.S. citizen if your parents are or have been American citizens
If you are not any of the above, however, then you would have to go through a process known as naturalization. To become qualified for naturalization you must be over 18 years old and possess a Permanent Residency card (known as a Green Card) for at least 5 years. This period is substantially shorter if you are married to a U.S. citizen.
Once you’ve hit that 5-year mark, you can apply for citizenship, and based on your record (assuming you did not commit any felonies or have been arrested) and passing the U.S. history and government exam, you may accept citizenship and successfully complete your naturalization process. Of course, you may apply after the five-year mark has passed; in fact, anytime between the 5-year-mark and the 10-year-mark in which your Green Card expires