The Difference Between A Green Card And Becoming A Naturalized Citizen

Daren Brown
By Daren Brown | March 21, 2019
The Difference Between A Green Card And Becoming A Naturalized Citizen
People don't usually realize the importance of this question. Why? They are under the false impression that obtaining a green card makes you a U.S. citizen. The truth is getting a green card is the first step to becoming a naturalized citizen; it is not a form of citizenship.

A good way to look at it is a green card gives you the right to pursue full citizenship. In order to exercise that right, you have to follow a specific list of steps. That list is lengthy and complicated, so having an immigration attorney comes highly recommended.

Are you a U.S. citizen or eligible for citizenship?

How many times have you seen that question on a standard job application? What the employer is trying to establish is whether or not you can legally work in the United States. The answer to this question is pivotal not only for hiring practices, but also for legally pursuing a livelihood in your new homeland.

Even if you have a green card, that card does not clear you to enjoy all the rights and privileges of a naturalized citizen. This is a hurdle that a lot of green card recipients don't see coming, but in truth it is one hurdle out of many. These checkpoints legitimize your claim to citizenship.

What's the Difference Between a Green Card and Being a Citizen?

For a lot of cardholders, the difference between the card in their hand and the piece of paper that identifies them as a citizen is a matter of semantics. However, that is not how the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sees it. A green card is meant to be one step in a multi-step process. A green card gives you the right to permanency in this country; citizenship endows you with all of the rights and protections thereof.

To apply for citizenship, you have to have maintained a lawful permanent residence for at least five years (unless you obtained your green card through a family relationship with a United States Citizen, in which case it is three years). Additionally, you have to be categorically approved to apply and submit to a full review of your immigration history and status. Even this doesn't cover all of the complexities involved. DO NOT CLAIM TO BE A UNITED STATES CITIZEN ON ANY FORM UNTIL YOU ARE A NATURALIZED CITIZEN. THIS COULD RESULT IN DENIAL OF CITIZENSHIP IN THE FUTURE.

Where Can I Find an Amarillo Immigration Lawyer?

The citizenship process is demanding and document-intensive. You have to follow a documentation schedule, provided accurate and complete information, and submit to questioning as requested. This is why a lawyer is an asset.

To make things more difficult, reforms and amendments to the law can come into play at any time. You need to know what to do and when to do it. An experienced attorney, such as Cindy Goodman of Amarillo law firm Stockard, Johnston, Brown & Netardus, P.C., is your best and most reliable navigation system. Contact this reputable firm today for more information. 806-372-2202.

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photo credit: orangejack via photopin cc

Topics: Immigration, Law