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Permanent Resident Rights

Under federal law, immigrants who are in the U.S. as permanent residents enjoy many of the same benefits and freedoms as U.S. citizens. Permanent residents are also protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states that they have the right to be free from discrimination based on their race, ethnicity, and national origin -- in employment, education, health care, housing, and other settings. The following is a list of basic rights and freedoms of permanent residents.

Rights of Permanent Residents

As a permanent resident, you have the right to:

  • Live permanently anywhere in the U.S., so long as you do not commit any actions that would make you removable under immigration law.
  • Work lawfully in the United States at any job that suits your qualifications (some jobs are limited to U.S. citizens for security reasons).
  • Apply to become a U.S. citizen once you are eligible.
  • Request a visa for your husband or wife and unmarried children to live in the U.S.
  • Obtain Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicare benefits, if you are eligible.
  • Own property in the U.S.
  • Apply for a driver's license in your state or territory.
  • Leave and return to the U.S. under certain conditions. However, you cannot leave the U.S. for an extended period of time or move to another country to live there permanently.
  • Attend public schools and colleges.
  • Join certain branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Purchase or own a firearm, so long as there are no state or local laws saying you can't.
  • Vote in local (but not federal) elections where U.S. Citizenship is not required. There are a few jurisdictions where permanent residents may vote in local elections. You can obtain information regarding voting qualifications in local elections from your local voting authority.
  • Be protected by all laws of the U.S., your state of residence, and local jurisdictions.
Next Steps
Contact a qualified immigration attorney to help
you with visa procedures.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)