To determine the current number of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) in the United States, we need to refer to the latest statistics available from U.S. governmental agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These agencies periodically publish data on immigration, including the number of LPRs.

How Many Lawful Permanent Residents Live in the United States Today?
How Many Lawful Permanent Residents Live in the United States Today?

What Is a Permanent Resident?

A permanent resident is an individual who has been granted the right to live permanently in a country where they are not a citizen. In the context of the United States, this status is commonly referred to as having a "Green Card," which legally allows the person to reside and work in the U.S. indefinitely, though they remain a citizen of another country. Here are key aspects of permanent residency, particularly in the U.S.:

Rights of Permanent Residents

Residence: Permanent residents can live anywhere within the United States.

Employment: They have the right to work in any job that does not expressly require U.S. citizenship, excluding most federal jobs which are often restricted to U.S. citizens.

Protection Under the Law: Permanent residents are protected by all laws of the United States, the states, and localities.

Education: They have access to public education and can also attend college at rates often lower than international student tuition.

Social Services: Eligible to receive certain social benefits, including social security benefits accumulated through U.S. employment.

Responsibilities of Permanent Residents

Obey All Laws: Like all residents, they must abide by all laws at the federal, state, and local levels.

File Income Taxes: They are required to file income tax returns and report their income to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and state taxing authorities.

Support Democratic Government: They must show support for the democratic form of government and cannot attempt to change the government through illegal means.

Selective Service Registration: Male permanent residents between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register with the Selective Service System.

Limitations of Permanent Residents

No Vote: Permanent residents cannot vote in federal elections and in most state and local elections.

No U.S. Passport: They cannot obtain a U.S. passport.

Travel Restrictions: They may travel outside the U.S. but must not remain abroad for periods typically longer than one year without obtaining a reentry permit to avoid losing their status.

Deportability: Under certain conditions, such as committing serious crimes or failing to comply with immigration regulations, a permanent resident can be deported.

What is a green card?

A "Green Card," officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued by the U.S. government to non-citizens that grants them authorization to live and work on a permanent basis in the United States. The card itself is plastic, similar in size and shape to a credit card, and is indeed green in color, which is where the nickname "Green Card" comes from.

The card itself contains various pieces of information about the holder, including their name, photo, and fingerprint, along with an identification number and the card’s expiration date. This helps in both identifying the holder and ensuring that they can prove their status easily when necessary, such as when seeking employment or interacting with law enforcement.

Overall, the Green Card is a crucial document for immigrants who wish to establish a long-term or permanent residence in the U.S., offering a range of opportunities and imposing specific legal responsibilities.

How Many Lawful Permanent Residents Live in the United States Today?

As of the most recent reports:

Total Number: The exact number of lawful permanent residents fluctuates yearly due to new admissions and adjustments of those transitioning to citizenship status. Recent estimates suggest that there are approximately 13 million LPRs in the United States.

Annual Admissions: Each year, the United States admits between 700,000 to 1,200,000 new LPRs. These figures include new arrivals and status adjustments for those already in the U.S.

Composition and Trends

The composition of LPRs in the U.S. includes a diverse array of nationalities, with significant numbers coming from countries like Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines. The reasons for obtaining LPR status vary, including family reunification, employment opportunities, and refugee or asylee status adjustments.

Country of Origin

• Top Source Countries: Historically, the majority of LPRs come from a handful of countries. Mexico has consistently been the leading source of LPRs, followed by other countries such as China, India, the Philippines, and Cuba. The specific rankings can fluctuate annually based on changes in U.S. immigration policy and global migration trends.

• Diversity Lottery: Each year, the Diversity Visa Lottery Program adds to the mix by allowing immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. to obtain resident status, diversifying the pool of LPRs.

Age, Gender, and Demographics

• Age Distribution: The age distribution of LPRs is generally younger than the native-born U.S. population, with a substantial proportion in the working-age group of 18-45 years.

• Gender Balance: The gender distribution among LPRs tends to be fairly balanced, though this can vary significantly by country of origin and immigrant category.

• Educational Levels: LPRs display a wide range of educational backgrounds, with recent trends showing a significant number of highly educated individuals among employment-based immigrants.

Reasons for Immigration

Permanent Residents in US
Permanent Residents in US

• Family-Based Immigration: This is the most common pathway, where U.S. citizens and current LPRs can sponsor close family members, such as spouses, children, and siblings, to become permanent residents.

• Employment-Based Immigration: The second largest category includes individuals who are sponsored by U.S. employers for their skills and talents. This category also includes investors who can enter the U.S. through the EB-5 visa program by making significant investments in U.S. enterprises.

• Refugees and Asylees: Individuals who have been granted asylum or refugee status due to persecution or fear of persecution in their home country can adjust their status to become LPRs after certain conditions are met.

Path to Citizenship: How to Obtain a Green Card

Permanent residents can typically apply for U.S. citizenship after five years of residence (or three years if married to a U.S. citizen) through a process called naturalization. This involves demonstrating knowledge of the English language and U.S. history and government, as well as loyalty to the principles of the U.S. Constitution.

Permanent residency thus offers a stable status for non-citizens to live and work in the U.S. while maintaining certain ties to their country of origin, but it also comes with specific responsibilities and limitations compared to U.S. citizenship.

There are several paths to obtaining a Green Card, including:

Family Sponsorship: U.S. citizens and current Green Card holders can sponsor certain family members for permanent residency.

Employment-Based Routes: Individuals may be sponsored by U.S. employers. Others may qualify through investment (via the EB-5 program) or through special categories of jobs.

Diversity Lottery: The U.S. conducts an annual lottery to issue Green Cards to individuals from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.

Refugee or Asylee Status: Those granted asylum or refugee status can apply for a Green Card after one year of being in such status.

Green card costs

The cost of obtaining a Green Card in the United States can vary depending on the method of application and individual circumstances. Here are the general costs associated with the different stages and types of Green Card applications:

Basic Application Fees

• Filing an Adjustment of Status (Form I-485): Depending on the complexity of their case and the attorney's professional fees, applicants should budget a significant amount extra for the services of an immigration lawyer. Legal fees can reach the tens of thousands of dollars in more complex cases.

• Consular Processing: If applying from outside the United States, the processing fee is generally $325, paid to the Department of State. This is part of the immigrant visa application process.

Additional Costs

• Biometrics Fee: Applicants are generally required to pay a $85 biometrics fee for fingerprinting and photo services. This fee is added to the application or adjustment request.

• Medical Examination: All Green Card applicants must undergo a medical examination by a government-approved physician. Costs vary by location and doctor but typically range from $100 to $500.

• Legal Fees: The additional costs that applicants should anticipate paying for the services of an immigration lawyer can vary greatly based on the intricacy of the case and the lawyer's professional rates. For more complicated cases, legal fees can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Specific Visa Category Fees

Family-Based Applications: If a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is sponsoring a relative, the sponsor must file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative), which has a filing fee of $535.

Employment-Based Applications: Employers filing on behalf of a candidate must pay various fees depending on the visa type, including processing fees for the petition (Form I-140), which costs $700.

Diversity Visa Lottery: The standard consular processing fees and other related costs will be incurred by winners of the Diversity Visa Lottery if they choose to proceed with the visa application, even though they are not required to pay for it.

Special Cases

Refugees and Asylees: Individuals adjusting status from refugee or asylee status are not required to pay the application fee for Form I-485.

Special Immigrant Juveniles and Victims of Abuse (VAWA): These categories are exempt from the Form I-485 application fee.

It's important for applicants to check the latest fee schedule on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website or consult with an immigration attorney to

Challenges and Policy Discussions

LPRs face various challenges, including long waiting times for visa processing and limitations on their travel outside the U.S. without jeopardizing their status. Policy discussions often focus on how to streamline the process for LPRs to become citizens, addressing backlogs and integrating immigrants more effectively into American society.


The composition and trends of lawful permanent residents in the United States are subject to constant change, influenced by a multifaceted interaction of global factors, policy choices made by the United States, and individual situations.

A comprehensive comprehension of these factors is imperative for the formulation of efficacious immigration policy and integration strategies.


1. As a permanent resident, are you allowed to travel abroad?

A permanent resident is allowed to travel outside the country, but upon returning, they must show a valid alien registration card. Furthermore, a permanent resident ought to travel with a valid passport from another nation.

The same grounds of inadmissibility that applied when you were granted permanent resident status apply each time you return to the United States (e.g., health-related concerns, certain criminal activity, terrorism, national security, public charge, willful misrepresentation and false claims to U.S. citizenship).

2. Is voting in US elections permitted?

No, only American citizens are able to cast ballots in elections.

3. What should you do if your green card expires?

You may request a renewal of your alien registration card by submitting Form I-90 (application to replace permanent resident card) up to six months before the card's expiration date. To learn more, go to the USCIS website.

Form I-751 (petition to remove the conditions on residence) must be used if you are a conditional permanent resident.

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