Before Citizenship: What You Can Do Leading Up to Naturalization

Sun, Jul 10, 2016 at 6:20PM


In the time leading up to your naturalization and achievement of citizenship, there’s often a bit of gray area when it comes to what you can and can’t do. We hope to clarify your rights as a permanent resident in today’s blog.

As a permanent resident, you can…

Live anywhere in the US

While you can’t move away to another country as a permanent resident, you can move from state to state. Within the US, you’re free to live anywhere from Florida to California and beyond while you wait for citizenship.

Own property

As a permanent resident, you are also free to own property—a home, a car, whatever it may be.

Receive social security and other benefits when eligible

As a permanent resident, you’re paying taxes—so it only makes sense that you receive social security, supplemental security income, Medicare benefits and others if you are eligible for them.

Apply for a driver’s license

Permanent residents can apply for and use a driver’s license before they’re technically citizens.

Vote in local elections where permitted

In some jurisdictions, voting by permanent residents is allowed in local elections. While you may still have to wait it out until you’re a naturalized citizen to vote in the general elections, this is still a great way for you to have a say in local politics. Don’t be afraid to ask local election authorities if and how you can vote in your area.

Receive an education

Another big benefit of living and paying taxes in your state of residence is the public education that comes with it. Permanent residents are able to attend public school and go to a public college afterward.

Apply for citizenship

Permanent residents who have been in the country for at least five years are able to apply for and receive citizenship through naturalization. This is, of course, the goal you’ve been working toward during your time as a permanent resident! While the process of actually applying for citizenship may take additional time—from several months to more than a year, depending on your specific situation—it can be made shorter by following all the requisite steps along the way. That’s where your dedicated immigration attorney can help.

We hope that our list helps you navigate your time as a permanent resident with a little more ease. Of course, if you have specific legal questions regarding to your specific case, give us a call today!

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