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Jobs for Green Card Holders

An individual holding a "green card" is more accurately classified as a permanent resident of the United States. This status signifies that the U.S. government has authorized the person to live and work in the United States. Once such authorization is granted, the person is given a card stating his or her legal status. This card has been coined a "green card." There are many job opportunities for a permanent resident of the United States. Depending on his language proficiency, a permanent resident can apply for nearly all the types of positions available to U.S. citizens. However, some restrictions do apply.

Rights of an Individual With Permanent Resident Status

It is important to understand your rights as a permanent resident within the United States. The U.S. Constitution mandates that permanent residents are treated equally with respect to their rights to earn a living. With certain limited exceptions, permanent residents must be given an equal opportunity for employment and shall not be discriminated against based upon national origin, citizenship or race. An employer who refuses to hire an applicant simply because he is a permanent resident has committed an unconstitutional, discriminatory act.

Exceptions to the Rights of Permanent Residents

While the Equal Protection Clause protects permanent residents from discrimination based upon their legal status, certain limited exceptions apply. For instance, school districts may constitutionally refuse to hire a permanent resident for teaching or high-level administrative positions. Also, certain high-ranking, top-security government positions are only available to U.S. citizens as classified information must be protected.

The Language Barrier

While permanent residents can apply for nearly any type of employment, the language barrier can be an issue. The majority of Americans speak either English or Spanish. For some permanent residents, learning these languages is a preliminary step in obtaining gainful employment. While an employer may never discriminate against you based upon your national origin, it is possible that your inability to speak English or Spanish could hamper your ability to find a job within the United States.

Permanent Residents are Eligible for Education Benefits

The most important stepping stone in procuring gainful employment within the United States is obtaining a quality education. Luckily, your status as a permanent resident makes you eligible for government assistance. In addition, permanent residents may also apply for in-state tuition rates if they choose a university within the state they are living.


Stephanie Reid has been writing professionally since 2007, with work published in the Virginia Bar Association's "Family Law Quarterly" and the "Whittier Journal of Child and Family Advocacy." She received her Juris Doctor from Regent University and her Bachelor of Arts in French and child development from Florida State University. Reid is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Maryland.