A green card does not guarantee citizenship

Obtaining a green card is a huge moment for many people who enter the country legally and go through the immigration process properly. But one misconception about the green card is that it automatically grants you U.S. citizenship. This is not correct. Obtaining citizenship is a different process than can certainly be aided by having a green card — but the card does not mean you get U.S. citizenship, nor does it guarantee it in the future.

The green card is known as Form I-551. It is about the size of your wallet and it is proof that you legally immigrated to the United States. Once you have a green card, you are considered a legal permanent resident.

There are many ways for you to get a green card, even though they all end up under the I-551 label. As we’ve talked about in the past, there could be employment visas that eventually lead to a person continually being in the U.S. and, thus, somewhere down the line, that individual may obtain permanent residency. Similarly, people of extraordinary skill or those who seek asylum could eventually become permanent residents and potentially obtain citizenship.

It’s just important to remember that there are no guarantees once you legally immigrate to the U.S. when it comes to obtaining citizenship. There are certainly paths to citizenship, and there are plenty of options that people have — but never forget that you have to follow the processes exactly and you will need legal support to make sure everything is done properly.

Source: FindLaw, “Lawful Permanent Resident (Lpr),” Accessed Jan. 21, 2015