As a permanent resident of the United States, otherwise known as a green card holder, you have a set of rights and responsibilities to observe. This list helps guide you on how to conduct yourself properly, and boost your ability to become a US citizen through naturalization later.
As a US permanent resident you have the right to the following:
Live permanently anywhere in the United States
True to the literal sense of being a permanent resident, you now can move freely throughout the United States. You can choose where to live, as influenced by your workplace, location of relatives and other valid reasons.
Work in the United States
Unlike those holding certain visas entering the US such as B1/B2 tourist visas, a permanent resident is allowed to work without requiring a certain visa. This is certainly more desirable even to those who hold a H1B working visas which are temporary in nature.
Own a property in the United States
As a permanent resident, you will also be free to buy properties in the United States. As a permanent settler, it makes sense to own a property as you intend to work, build or bring your family together and stay there longer.
Attend public school in the United States
As a permanent resident, you’ll be able to send your children to schools in the US without requiring a student visa. Public schools are funded by taxpayers money and are therefore free of charge, except for other extra fees. Other alternatives include private schools and homeschooling.
Apply for a US driver’s license
Green card holders are also eligible to apply for driver’s license and be able to legally drive a vehicle in the United States.
Enlist in the US armed forces
Like American citizens, permanent residents in the country can join certain branches in the US armed forces.
Receive social benefits
Eligible green card holders — those that fall under certain income brackets or have certain disabilities — can receive social security, medical and supplemental security income.
Apply to become a US citizen
Becoming a US citizen is an eventual pathway for a US permanent resident once he or she reaches a certain number of years as a green card holder, is at the right age and of good moral character, among others.
Support visa application for your family members
Green card holders can also request for visas of their spouse and unmarried children to live in the United States.
Travel outside the United States
The ability to travel out of and return to the United States under certain conditions is also one of the rights of a US permanent resident.
On the flip side, there are also responsibilities every US permanent resident needs to be aware of. As a permanent resident, you must:
Obey all federal, state, and local laws
The United States has laws set by the federal (national), state and local governments. As permanent resident, you must be aware of and follow them.
Permanent residents in the United States are required to pay federal, state and local income taxes.
Register with the Selective Service of the US armed forces
If you are a male between the ages of 18 and 26, you need to register at this independent government agency that oversees information on those potentially subject to military conscription.
Carry proof of identity at all times
To avoid inconvenience, you are required to carry proof of your permanent resident status at all times.
Notify the USCIS on address change
Within 10 days after your move to a new address, you must inform the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Being a US permanent resident or green card holder is a great privilege many wish to attain. As you’ll read the above list, there are several benefits of holding this residence status while the responsibilities are mostly expected from a citizen of any other country. It is, therefore, a crucial time to be a holder of this PR status as it brings you closer to that desired US citizen status.