Permanent residents, or “lawful permanent residents” (LPRs), also known as “green card” holders, are non-U.S. citizens who are lawfully authorized to live permanently in the United States. LPRs may work without special restrictions, own property, receive financial assistance, and join the armed forces. They can also apply to become U.S. citizens (to naturalize) if they meet certain requirements. However, LPRs do not have any rights to vote in U.S. elections.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides several broad classes of admission for aliens to gain LPR status. These classes include family reunification, economic, and humanitarian immigrants.
If an LPR spends more than a year outside the United States, the LPR will be presumed to have abandoned his or her residence. If an LPR commits certain crimes, the LPR may be placed be placed in removal proceedings.
[Last updated in September of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]