USCIS Announces a Revised Naturalization Civics Test

Sometimes the words permanent resident and citizen are used interchangeably. There are, however, distinct and important differences between being a U.S. permanent resident and a U.S. citizen. While both grant a person to legally reside and work in the U.S., there are certain limits that are applicable to a U.S. permanent resident, but not a U.S. citizen.

Permanent Residents vs. Citizens

A lawful permanent resident is granted what is commonly called a “green card.” The green card holder is granted the right to indefinitely reside in the U.S. With permanent residence status also comes the right to work in the U.S. Permanent residents remain citizens of their home country and must carry the passport of that country should they travel outside of the U.S. Their green card is used to reenter the U.S. when they come back.

Permanent residents may also petition for close family members to join them in the U.S. and receive permanent resident status as well. There is, however, a waitlist for these “preference relatives” to receive immigrant visas as there are only a limited number of these visas each year. After a permanent resident has lived in the U.S. for a certain length of time and has shown good moral character, as well as a command of the English language this would allow them to speak, read, and write in the language, he or she may apply for U.S. citizenship. The permanent resident will have to go through the naturalization process to obtain U.S. citizenship. This will include passing a test on U.S. history and government.

While there are many benefits and rights conferred upon U.S. permanent residents, there are also important restrictions on U.S. permanent residents. For instance, permanent residents are not permitted to vote in U.S. elections and can be prosecuted should they try to do so. Also, should a permanent resident leave the country with the intention of making a home elsewhere, then permanent resident status will essentially be revoked as the U.S. will consider this as abandoning your residence and giving up your green card. Permanent residents are also subject to certain grounds of deportability. Should a permanent resident commit certain crimes or fail to update information like address changes with USCIS, removal proceedings may be initiated resulting in the resident’s deportation from the U.S.

U.S. citizens may vote in both federal and local elections. U.S. citizens are also eligible to hold a U.S. passport. A citizen may leave and reenter the U.S. without requiring a reentry permit and there are no restrictions on how long a citizen can stay outside of the U.S. Citizens cannot be deported from the country, unless green card or citizenship was obtained through the commission of fraud.

Immigration Law Attorneys

If you should have any questions or need more information about the ways in which the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Laws may impact you, your family, your friends or your colleagues, please contact the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers at the NPZ Law Group – VISASERVE – U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers by e-mailing us at or by calling us at 201-670-0006 (x107). You can also visit our Law Firm’s website at