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Immigration and the rights of permanent residents

Securing a green card can be one of the best experiences for immigrants in New York. However, since immigration law is not always clear and often appears to be in a state of ongoing change, not all permanent residents fully understand their rights. Under the law, green card holders are protected by a wide range of rights, which allow them to live happy, fulfilling lives in the United States. 

The most widely understood right afforded by permanent residency is the right to live and work anywhere within the U.S. This includes owning property, obtaining a driver’s license, attending public educational institutions and even serving in the military. Permanent residents can even vote in many of their local elections. 

Permanent residents are also protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This federal gives citizens and permanent residents alike protection from discrimination because of a person’s ethnicity, race and nationality in a number of areas. This means that employers, landlords, health care providers and others cannot deny a permanent resident service or care in a discriminatory manner. This is especially important for immigrants who are worried that their ethnicity might make it difficult to fully integrate into U.S. society. 

One of the biggest rights as a permanent resident is the ability to apply for citizenship when eligible. For those hoping to make New York more than just a permanent residency but a true home, achieving citizenship is a lofty goal. Utilizing certain immigration stepping stones — such as getting a green card — can help these individuals reach those dreams. 

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