Difference Between Citizen and Permanent Resident

Main Difference – Citizen vs Permanent Resident   

Although many people assume that citizenship and permanent residence are the same, there is actually a difference between the two. Even though both citizens and permanent residents have the legal right to live in a country permanently, permanent residents do not have the all the rights entitled to a citizen. This is the main difference between citizen and permanent resident.

Who is a Citizen

The Oxford dictionary defines a citizen as a legally recognized subject or national of a state or commonwealth, either native or naturalized. There are several factors that can decide your citizenship. Although different countries have different rules and regulations about granting citizenship, the country of birth usually decides the citizenship of an individual. A person can also gain the citizenship of a country if his parents are citizens of that country. Marrying a citizen of another country can also give you the citizenship of that country.

People who have entered another country legally and been granted the permit to stay, or been granted political asylum, and lived there for a specified period are also granted the citizenship of that country. Some people have dual citizenship, which makes them citizens of two countries or states. In most cases, we are citizens of the country we are born in. A citizen has more rights and privileges than a permanent resident.Difference Between Citizen and Permanent Resident

Who is a Permanent Resident

Permanent resident is an individual who has been granted the legal right to live in a country permanently. But a permanent resident is not a citizen of that country. Most importantly, permanent resident’s country of birth is another. They remain the citizens of another country. He/ she has been just given a visa status to stay in another country indefinitely. A permanent resident is not issued a passport of that country; instead, he is given a permanent resident card. In the US, a permanent resident card is known as the green card.

A permanent resident does not have the same rights as a citizen. Permanent residents cannot vote or cannot stand for public office. They also cannot own certain types of properties. However, a permanent resident can apply for citizenship after completing a specified period of residence. But the permanent residency can be cancelled by the state if that individual commits a serious offense or does not reside in the country for a specific period of time.Main Difference - Citizen vs  Permanent Resident

Difference Between Citizen and Permanent Resident   

Country of Birth

Citizen: An individual is naturally granted the citizenship of the country of birth.

Permanent Resident: An individual is not generally a permanent resident of the country of the birth.

Elective Rights

Citizen: Citizens can vote and stand for public office.

Permanent Resident: Permanent residents cannot vote or stand for public office.


Citizen: Citizenship cannot be cancelled.

Permanent Resident: Permanent residency can be cancelled.

Citizenship of another Country

Citizen: An individual can have dual citizenship.

Permanent Resident: Permanent Resident is generally a citizen of another country.


Citizen: A citizen is not required to reside in the country of citizenship for a specific time period.

Permanent Resident: A Permanent Resident is required to reside in the country of citizenship for a specific time period.Difference Between Citizen and Permanent Resident - infographic

Image Country

“My Passport” byBriansblog (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

“Greencard” By U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) –  Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by ahkitj. (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia  

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.