A green card is evidence that a foreigner is a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. but not yet a U.S. citizen. It is a plastic card about the size of a credit card and a foreigner carries it in his or her wallet as form of immigration ID.

Green Card vs. US Citizenship

Like a U.S. citizen, a green card holder can work at any job and can use the card to return to the U.S. after international travel. A green card is not U.S. citizenship. You cannot use it to obtain a U.S. Passport, for example. Foreigners who have green cards must keep their foreign passports and citizenship.

U.S. Permanent Resident Card (green card)

Those who obtain green cards based on marriage to U.S. citizens must maintain the card (and remain married) for a minimum of two years and nine months before submitting a U.S. Citizenship Application. Exception – a foreigner who joins the U.S. military can apply for U.S. citizenship immediately.

Maintaining a US Green Card

A green card holder

  1. Must maintain primary residence in the U.S. If the green card holder spends more than half the time outside the U.S., then the green card can be taken away
  2. Must file U.S. income tax returns and declare to be a U.S. resident on the returns
  3. Must not commit any serious crimes
  4. Must not vote for public office
  5. Must not claim to be a U.S. citizen

Some green card holders never want U.S. citizenship. Consult with a CPA or tax attorney regarding any tax consequences of obtaining U.S. citizenship as compared to simply maintaining green card status.

For those who want U.S. citizenship, the U.S. allows dual citizenship. You can obtain U.S. citizenship without losing your citizenship of another country, if that country also allows dual citizenship.


Call for Assistance — We are here to help you with your Green Card application or maintenance. Discuss your situation and how we may help. Initial consultation is FREE.

Call U.S. toll free 1-888-483-0311 (outside U.S. +1 212-483-0311) or use our free consultation form.