Benefits to Securing Permanent Resident Status
While the benefit of not having to fear arrest and deportation for being in the country illegally is obvious, there are many rights granted to permanent residents that make the transition from a nonimmigrant visa to a permanent resident status an important step in the lives of many people.
This page will address some of the most important benefits and rights that a permanent resident gains upon receiving a green card.
Permanent residence means that you are free to travel and live in the United States in any location you should choose, without seeking approval from USCIS or filling out any extra paperwork. Additionally, when you leave and reenter the United States from abroad, the only documentation you need is your green card. (For trips longer than one year but less than two years, a reentry permit is required. Find more information about that on our overview of reentry permits.)
Many lifestyle choices are also improved with permanent residency status. Obtaining a mortgage loan is often possible or easier with a green card; private health insurance or life insurance may also be easier to obtain as a permanent resident.
One of the most important and tangible benefits of attaining permanent resident status is that you may sponsor a spouse or unmarried child under 21 to receive permanent resident status as well. As a result, many families who may have been pulled apart by ineligibility under temporary worker status are able to reunite with an easier path to permanent status through a family member holding a green card.
Permanent residents enjoy more working opportunities than temporary workers, since there are no requirements for employers to submit sponsorship paperwork for temporary work. Likewise, green card holders are eligible for some jobs that require security clearance for which temporary nonimmigrants are not eligible.
Permanent residents are also eligible for government grants and can legally establish a business or corporation, giving them the opportunity for self-employment.
As a permanent resident, you will be eligible to apply for government financial aid for higher education, such as Pell Grants, Stafford loans and Perkins loans. Additionally, you may be eligible for "in-state" or "resident" tuition discounts for state universities.
Social Welfare Programs
Lawful permanent residents also have access to many social programs for which nonimmigrants are not eligible. In order to qualify for Social Security payments upon retirement, a permanent resident must be employed for 40 financial quarters (the equivalent of 10 years). Federal and state health care programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) accept permanent residents who meet the financial qualifications. However, certain immigrants who gain permanent resident status must wait five years from the time of their entry in order to qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP (emergency situations are covered at any time). See the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website for more specific information on eligibility of permanent residents for these programs.
Path to Citizenship
Of course, perhaps the most important benefit to someone who intends to naturalize to the United States by becoming a U.S. citizen is that it is one step closer to the naturalization process. In order to qualify for citizenship, you must be a permanent resident for at least five years in most cases. If you become a permanent resident and your spouse is a U.S. citizen, then the wait period is only three years; also, if you receive a green card through political asylum, your wait period is four years. Other stipulations apply, which can be best explained by an immigration lawyer.
More Questions about Benefits for Green Card Holders? Talk to an Immigration Team Member
There are many issues that arise in the application process for permanent residency. Eligibility issues, paperwork, identification proof, just to name a few, can slow down your chance to become a permanent resident before you even turn in your application.
Speaking to an immigration advocate in your area can allow you to gain an advantage in applying for or instating permanent resident status. Call us, toll free, at 877-854-7606 or fill out our immigration case evaluation form and start your new life today by giving us a call!