Difference Between Citizen and Permanent Resident

Many people use the terms citizen and permanent resident interchangeably. But you will notice a significant difference if you carefully look into the statuses.


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Key Takeaways

  1. A citizen is a legally recognized member of a country with rights and responsibilities, such as voting and paying taxes. At the same time, a permanent resident is a non-citizen who has been granted permission to live and work in a country indefinitely.
  2. Citizenship usually comes with more rights and privileges, including the right to vote, run for public office, and obtain a passport. At the same time, permanent residents may have some restrictions on their rights, such as voting or holding certain government positions.
  3. Permanent residents can apply for citizenship after meeting specific residency requirements, passing language and civics tests, and demonstrating good moral character.

Citizen vs Permanent Resident

A citizen is a person who holds a legal, recognized nationality and is entitled to full political and legal rights in their country of citizenship. A permanent resident is a foreign national who has been granted the right to live and work in a country permanently but does not have a citizen’s full rights and privileges. Permanent residents may eventually become citizens, but the process and eligibility requirements for naturalization vary by country.

Citizen vs Permanent Resident

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Having the status of Permanent Resident legally grants you to stay in the country indefinitely.

But they have some limitations compared to the citizens of the country. If you leave the country for more than a year or so, you can be placed in a removal procedure and can be risked of deporting the country.

Citizens are the ones who are born in the country, or if any of the parents are from that country, the child gets citizenship. They have the right to obtain a passport and vote.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonCitizenPermanent Resident
CharacterHe or she is born in the country and has all sorts of rights and freedom to live and work independently.A permanent resident can live in the country indefinitely with some restrictions.
Voting rightsCitizens have the right to vote and elect the leaders of their country.A permanent resident has no voting rights.
FreedomAs a citizen of the country, you can leave and reenter the country whenever you wish with your passport.But a permanent resident has no passport, and he needs a re-entry permit.
AbandonmentYou cannot be abandoned unless you commit a serious crime.You can be deported for any wrong step, even if you stay outside the country for more than a year.
FamilyIf you are a citizen of the country, your family members are automatically granted the right to citizenship.You need special permission from the authorities to bring in your family members if you are the family’s sole earner.


Who is Citizen?

Citizenship refers to a person’s commitment to the government in exchange for its auspices at home and abroad. By birth, a person officially meets the criteria to be a citizen.

As a citizen, you have specific benefits and responsibilities to go through. At the same time, you shall keep in mind not to violate any law which shall lead you to inadmissibility.

Benefits you have as a citizen –

  1. You have political rights, including voting, public office, and civil liberties.
  2. Protection from deportation
  3. Citizenship of family members
  4. Eligibility for all government jobs
  5. Freedom to travel
  6. Can obtain a passport.
  7. Can become a permanent resident in any other country for less than 5 years.

Responsibilities as a citizen –

  1. You shall obey and abide by federal, state, and local laws.
  2. You need to pay taxes to your government.
  3. You are not allowed to perform any criminal work against the country.
  4. Serve on a jury
  5. Participate in community work.
  6. Register with selective service.

Who is Permanent Resident?

Permanent residency is a person’s resident status in a country. They are not considered citizens but have the right to reside permanently indefinitely.

A permanent resident remains a citizen of another country. So any time you travel, you shall carry the passport of that country and the green card.

Limitations as a permanent resident –

  1. You don’t have voting and other electoral rights.
  2. You cannot stay away from the country for more than one year, leading to inadmissibility.
  3. You shall be deported from the country if you commit certain crimes or violate security laws.
  4. You cannot apply for government jobs
  5. You have to pay a higher rate of taxes.

Benefits of being a permanent resident –

  1. You need not change your nationality and renew your green card if necessary.
  2. You can work freely without worrying about the jury and selective service.

The most crucial benefit of being a permanent resident is that – if you show good moral character and abide by the laws, you can apply for citizenship and a passport after 5 years of your stay.

permanent resident

Main Differences Between Citizen and Permanent Resident

  1. Citizens are persons that are living in the country by birth. In contrast, a Permanent resident is legally responsible for residing in the country for a specified time with some special permission.
  2. You can travel freely carrying the passport, but a permanent resident must carry the original passport and green card. Moreover, staying more than one year away from the country leads you to abandonment.
  3. As a citizen, you must pay taxes, attend the jury, do selective service, and do community work. But a permanent resident is free from all these assignments.
  4. Citizens have the right to vote, elect public officials, and have civil liberties. But it does not apply to permanent residents.
  5. Citizens can apply for any job, especially government jobs, but permanent residents are not permitted to do so.
  1. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/citizenship/
  2. https://isso.ucsf.edu/permanent-resident
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