There are over 13 million immigrants in the U.S. who are lawful permanent residents, otherwise known as green card holders. According to DHS, approximately 8.7 million of those permanent residents are eligible to naturalize, or become a U.S. citizen. Of those eligible, only about 680,000 naturalize each year.

Many permanent residents are content with the benefits of simply remaining a green card holder. This post will go into some of the differences of being a green card holder vs. being a citizen. Perhaps it's time to take the oath and take the plunge into U.S. citizenship.

Naturalization Ceremony Grand Canyon 20100923mq_0555

Let's Compare the Green Card to Citizenship

Green Card


Leaving & Re-entering the United States

Can exit and re-enter without need for visa.Green card "abandoned" if out of the country for 180 days. Eligible for U.S. passport.Can leave the U.S. for long periods of time.

Legally Working in the United States

Eligible to work legally without need for sponsor. Not eligible to work in federal positions. Eligible to work legally without need for sponsor. Eligible to work in federal positions.

Running for Office

Not eligible to run for any office. Eligible to run for office (except for U.S. president).


Cannot vote. Can vote.


Eligible for deportation if certain crimes are committed. Cannot be deported and has more plea bargain options.

Bring Foreign Loved Ones to the United States

Can petition for spouse or child for a visa. Cannot petition for other family members. Cannot petition for fiance. Petitioning for spouse or child takes 4 or 5 times longer than citizen. Can petition for spouse for a visa. Can petition for siblings and parents for a visa. Can petition for fiance visa. Children under 18 are automatically naturalized as citizens. Petitioning for relatives is much quicker.

Are you ready to take the plunge and naturalize?

Apart from the above benefits of citizenship, you will also enjoy a sense of patriotism and peace of mind that you're finally home. No need to renew your green card, no need to bother with the immigration process. As a citizen, you've achieved the pinnacle of the U.S. immigration process. You can even retain your previous citizenship, as the U.S. allows dual citizenship.

If you're ready to take the next step, you can begin your naturalization petition today for free.

Disclaimer: The contents of this post were accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of publishing. Immigration is constantly changing, and old information often becomes outdated, including procedures, timelines, prices, and more. Take note of the publish date. For archival purposes, these posts will remain published, even if new information renders them obsolete. Do not make important life decisions based on this content. No part of this post should be considered legal advice, as RapidVisa is not a law firm. This content is provided free of charge for informational purposes only. If anything herein conflicts with an official government website, the official government website shall prevail.

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