Citizen vs Permanent Resident: Difference and Comparison

A citizen is a legal member of a country with full rights, while a permanent resident holds a long-term visa but lacks certain privileges. Citizenship implies allegiance, while permanent residency denotes a more limited legal status. Citizens can vote and hold public office, but permanent residents cannot.

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 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

Law Quiz

Test your knowledge about topics related to law

1 / 10

What type of law governs the enforcement of contracts?

2 / 10

_______ is a rule of conduct, just, obligatory, and laid down by a legitimate power.

3 / 10

The correct sequence in the formation of a contract is

4 / 10

What is the legal definition of arrest?

5 / 10

What type of law governs the regulation of trade and commerce?

6 / 10

What is the term for a wrongful act committed by one person that causes harm to another person for which the injured party can seek compensation?

7 / 10

What type of law governs the actions and decisions of administrative agencies?

8 / 10

An agreement made without free consent is

9 / 10

A sells, by auction, to B a horse that A knows to be unsound. A says nothing to B about the horse's unsoundness. A does

10 / 10

In “Promissory note” and a “bill of exchange” how many parties involved?

Your score is


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

FeatureCitizenPermanent Resident
StatusLegal member of a countryLegally authorized to live and work in a country indefinitely
RightsCan vote, hold public office, run for elected positions, receive certain government benefitsCannot vote, hold public office, run for elected positions, may have limited access to government benefits
ResponsibilitiesPay taxes, obey laws, defend the country (if required)Pay taxes, obey laws
TravelFreely travel in and out of the country with a passportMay need a visa or travel document to re-enter after extended travel outside the country
Path to citizenshipVaries by country (may be automatic, require application, or not be possible)Often possible after meeting residency requirements, good moral character, and passing citizenship tests
Loss of statusVery difficult to lose citizenship unless under extreme circumstancesCan lose permanent residency status for various reasons, like criminal activity, leaving the country for too long, or failing to meet renewal requirements
Emotional connectionOften considered a deeper sense of belonging and national identityMay feel an affiliation with the country, but not to the same degree as citizens
SymbolismHolds a passport, may participate in national elections, considered a full member of societyHolds a residency card, may not be able to fully participate in all aspects of national life


Who is Citizen?

Citizenship is a legal status that confers certain rights, privileges, and responsibilities upon individuals within a sovereign state. It is the highest legal membership one can hold in a country.

Rights and Privileges of Citizens:

Citizens enjoy a range of rights, including the right to vote in elections, the right to work and reside within the country without restrictions, and the right to receive protection from the government. They may also have access to social benefits and public services.

Responsibilities of Citizens:

Citizenship comes with various responsibilities, such as obeying the laws of the country, paying taxes, and potentially serving in the military when required. Additionally, citizens are expected to contribute positively to the well-being of their communities.

Acquisition of Citizenship:

Citizenship can be acquired through various means, including birth within the territory, descent from citizens, or through a legal process known as naturalization. Each country has its own laws and criteria for granting citizenship.

Renunciation and Dual Citizenship:

Some individuals may choose to renounce their citizenship voluntarily, while others may hold dual citizenship, maintaining legal ties to more than one country simultaneously. However, rules regarding dual citizenship vary among nations.


Who is Permanent Resident?

Permanent residency is a legal immigration status that allows foreign nationals to live and work in a country on a long-term basis, with certain rights and privileges similar to those of citizens.

Rights and Privileges of Permanent Residents:

Permanent residents have the right to reside in the country indefinitely, work without needing a separate work permit, and access social services. However, their rights may be more limited compared to citizens, as they cannot vote in elections or hold certain public offices.

Residency Requirements:

To maintain permanent residency, individuals may be required to fulfill specific residency obligations, such as spending a certain amount of time in the country within a given period. Failure to meet these requirements can lead to the loss of permanent resident status.

Pathways to Permanent Residency:

Common pathways to obtain permanent residency include family-sponsored immigration, employment-based sponsorship, refugee or asylum status, and investment programs. Each country has its own eligibility criteria and application process.

Difference from Citizenship:

Unlike citizenship, permanent residency does not confer full political rights, and permanent residents may still be subject to deportation under certain circumstances. They may also be restricted in terms of international travel, as some countries have limitations on permanent residents leaving for extended periods.

Option for Citizenship:

In some cases, permanent residents may have the opportunity to apply for citizenship after meeting additional requirements, such as fulfilling a residency period and demonstrating language proficiency. However, obtaining citizenship is a separate process from acquiring permanent residency.

permanent resident

Main Differences Between Citizen and Permanent Resident

  • Legal Status:
    • Citizen: Highest legal membership in a country.
    • Permanent Resident: Long-term immigration status with fewer privileges than citizenship.
  • Rights and Privileges:
    • Citizen: Full political rights, including voting and holding public office.
    • Permanent Resident: Limited political rights, unable to vote in elections or hold certain offices.
  • Responsibilities:
    • Citizen: Full range of legal obligations, including paying taxes and potential military service.
    • Permanent Resident: Generally subject to fewer obligations than citizens.
  • Residency Requirements:
    • Citizen: No specific residency requirements to maintain status.
    • Permanent Resident: May need to fulfill residency obligations to retain permanent residency.
  • Pathways to Status:
    • Citizen: Typically acquired through birth, descent, or naturalization.
    • Permanent Resident: Obtained through family sponsorship, employment, refugee/asylum status, or investment programs.
  • Travel Restrictions:
    • Citizen: Generally free to travel internationally without restrictions.
    • Permanent Resident: May face limitations on international travel, depending on the country.
  • Deportation Risk:
    • Citizen: Generally immune from deportation.
    • Permanent Resident: Can face deportation under certain circumstances, such as criminal convictions.
  • Access to Social Services:
    • Citizen: Full access to social benefits and public services.
    • Permanent Resident: Generally entitled to social services, but the extent may vary.
  • Citizenship Option:
    • Citizen: Permanent residents may have the option to apply for citizenship.
    • Permanent Resident: Represents a step towards potential citizenship but is not equivalent.

Last Updated : 11 February, 2024

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