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Differences between a citizen and a lawful permanent resident

Too many people make the mistake of thinking that immigrants in this country are here unlawfully if they are not U.S. citizens. However, this is a very misguided and inaccurate assumption to make. The fact is that there are people across the U.S. and right here in Miami who are considered lawful permanent residents.

Lawful permanent residents are also referred to as green card holders. These people have secured the right to work and live in the U.S. permanently. They can be eligible for certain government benefits, own property, go to school and leave the U.S. without immediately losing their status. However, if you are an LPR, you may be considering or want to consider becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.

There are some very important differences between being an LPR and being a U.S. citizen. As a citizen, you gain the right to vote, travel with a U.S. passport, get a federal job, become an elected official and demonstrate your patriotism by committing to this country.

You will also be protected from being deported or losing your citizenship status if you travel outside the U.S. for too long. Should you leave the country, you can also still receive government assistance from the U.S. should you need it.

Whether you are a permanent resident or a citizen, however, you have many responsibilities that should be taken seriously. For instance, citizens can be called to serve on a jury. Permanent residents and citizens must also pay taxes and face the consequences for breaking the federal, state and/or local laws.

If you are currently a lawful permanent resident and have questions about the rights and limitations of your status or if you want to explore the possibility of becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, it can be wise to consult an immigration attorney. The process of adjusting your status can be much more complicated than you realize. Having legal support during this time can prove to be quite helpful.

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