What Does It Mean to be a Lawful Permanent Resident?

The immigration status titles alone that are involved in the U.S. immigration system are enough to be confusing in and of themselves. While the terminology can be overwhelming, the status bestowed upon different individuals that look to come to the U.S. and stay in the U.S. is important. Each status comes with important distinctions and different rights while in the U.S. Here, we will discuss lawful permanent resident status and what it means to be a lawful permanent resident in the U.S.

What Does It Mean to be a Lawful Permanent Resident?

A U.S. lawful permanent resident is commonly referred to as a green card holder and is authorized to remain in the U.S. indefinitely. Pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, there are several overarching classes of foreign nationals to be approved for lawful permanent resident status. One of the biggest of these classes focuses on admission for the purpose of family reunification. Other major classes include immigrants coming to the U.S. for economic and humanitarian reasons as well as those countries that have lower levels of immigration to the U.S.


While often confused, lawful permanent residents are not U.S. citizens. They may, however, become U.S. citizens if certain eligibility requirements are met. Furthermore, lawful permanent residents have the right to accept employment offers free from special restrictions, as well as own property in the U.S. and join the armed forces. U.S. lawful permanent residents are also eligible to receive financial aid at public institutions of higher education in the country.


Permanent resident status also means that an individual can petition for close family members such as spouses and unmarried children to receive lawful permanent resident status as well, making them able to join you in the U.S. indefinitely. Unfortunately, however, family members of lawful permanent residents are considered preference relatives which means they are subject to the limitation on the available immigrant visas for preference relatives. There is an extensive waitlist for preference relatives and it has reached upwards of five years or longer.


While there are many important rights that come with lawful permanent resident status in the U.S., there are also limitations. Permanent residents are not U.S. citizens and remain citizens of a different country. This means that every time a permanent resident travels outside the U.S., he or she must carry their passport from the country of origin in addition to a U.S. green card. The green card will be necessary to reenter the U.S. Additionally, permanent residents, unlike U.S. citizens, cannot vote in U.S. elections. In fact, a lawful permanent resident found to have attempted to vote in a U.S. election can be prosecuted and, as a result, lose the chance to gain U.S. citizenship.

Immigration Law Attorneys

If you have questions or want to access additional information about US or Canadian Immigration and Nationality Laws, please feel free to get in touch with the immigration and nationality lawyers at the NPZ Law Group. If you have more questions about how these laws in the US may impact you or your family, contact the lawyers specialized in US Immigration and Nationality laws at our law firm. You can also send us an email at info@visaserve.com, or you can call us at 201-670-0006 (x104). In addition to that, we invite you to find more information on our website at www.visaserve.com.