A lawful permanent resident is a person who has been given permission to reside and work in a country for an extended period of time, even though that person is not a citizen of the host country. Once a person has become a lawful permanent resident, he or she is typically issued proof of that status. In some countries, such as the United States and Germany, this is known as a green card. Other countries, like Canada, refer to it as a Permanent Resident Card.
Lawful permanent resident status can be granted to a person for a variety of different reasons. Some people achieve it when family members petition the country on their behalf while other people receive it by marrying citizens of the host country. In some countries, skilled workers are offered permanent resident status in order to entice them to bring their expertise into the host country. Sometimes a country will grant the status to a person who meets the criteria for a refugee or for asylum. In other cases, a person can file on his or her own behalf.
The rights and responsibilities of a lawful permanent resident can vary from one country to another. In general, most experience the same treatment as citizens. For instance, they ordinarily have access to any services that are subsidized by the government, such as education and health care. A resident usually has the right to work in the host country, although some countries will not allow them to hold government jobs. Many countries permit a resident to apply for citizenship once a certain time period has passed.
There are a few notable exceptions to the rights enjoyed by lawful permanent residents. For instance, most countries do not let residents vote in national, state, provincial, or local elections. A resident typically cannot run for an elected office or join the host country’s army, navy, or air force. In addition, a host country generally won’t issue a passport to a lawful permanent resident.
A host country usually retains the right to deport a lawful permanent resident. In most countries, this occurs primarily when the resident has committed a significant criminal offense or poses a threat to national security. This can also happen if the resident doesn’t adhere to the requirements of his or her visa. For example, some countries do not allow a resident to leave the country for more than a certain period of time, often two years. Failing to comply with this requirement could mean the loss of permanent resident visa status.