Difference between Green Card and Permanent Resident

Key Difference:  Permanent Resident is a person who is authorized by a country to reside and work within the country’s boundaries without holding the citizenship of that particular country. The status is known as permanent residency. Green card status is same as the status of permanent residency. It is a permit that allows the same permissions. Therefore, the words are used interchangeably.

Green card holder is another name for permanent resident. It is used as a slang term for permanent resident. It is different from obtaining the citizenship of a country. Green card is usually associated with permanent resident status of United States of America, through which a person gets right to live and work in America. A green card holder does not have to worry about his citizenship with another country.

They enjoy various benefits like studying, staying and working in the United States. However, they are not entitled to vote in federal elections. A Green Card holder can leave United States for holidays or regarding work. However, there are certain limitations regarding how long they can stay away from the United States. The status of permanent resident and green card is the legal status in the country. In America, a foreign national can get this card by various means like based on family sponsorship or by employment. One can also obtain this card for United states through asylum and refugee status. An applicant may also get the card though green card lottery program where a random selection is made from applicants.

The term Green Card is associated with America as originally these cards were printed ingreen colored paper in America. Thus, this word got popularized and is also used in many countries in place of Permanent Resident status. It is issued for a specific period of time which is usually for 10 years in America. Still, it is termed as permanent status due to requirements of renewal rather than reissuing process.

In U.K., a foreigner needs to apply for permission regarding settlement in the UK, in order to become a UK permanent resident. This is also known as indefinite leave to remain. It also provides the right to live and work in the United Kingdom without restrictions. It is important to mention that Permanent Resident and Green card are not equivalent to citizenship. One can apply for citizenship after gaining the Green Card Status.

In Australia, one can apply for permanent residency by ways like – applying through general skilled migration, getting sponsored by partner or spouse who is Australian citizen or permanent resident, getting sponsored by a family member who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Another method of getting the status of permanent resident status is by investing or managing a new or existing business in Australia.

Therefore, permanent resident and green card both are related to the status which can be considered as permanent Visa. The word Green Card is the slang term used for permanent resident especially in the United States of America.

Comparison between Green Card and Permanent Resident:


Green Card

Permanent Resident


A document issued to the Permanent Resident

A foreigner  who is permitted to live and work in the country,


A permit

Refers to the Green Card Holder

Common or other Usage

  • Generally, used in context to Unites States’ Permanent Resident Card
  • In the United Kingdom, it also refers to an international insurance document for motorists

Used only in context to immigration status of the person

Image Courtesy: myorlandoimmigrationlawyer.com, borderslawfirm.com

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