What is a green card?
A green card is an American-issued identification card that allows an individual to live and work, legally in the United States. An individual who holds a green card is permitted to reside in Canada, but they are not considered a citizen of the country.
What is a permanent residency card?
In Canada, the government issues a similar form of identification referred to as a permanent residency (PR) card. Like its American counterpart, the PR card is used by someone who has been given permanent resident status, but is not a legal citizen of the country. Permanent residents can live, work, study, and travel within the country. They are also eligible for many social benefits that are available to citizens (i.e. health care coverage). Permanent residents cannot, however, vote or run for political office. They may also be excluded from holding positions that require a high-level security clearance.
What’s the difference?
By these definitions, it appears that the terms “Green Card” and “PR Card” can be used interchangeably. The main difference, however, is evident in the way permanent residency is acquired in the two countries.
In the United States, the government employs a “Green Card Lottery” system. This system is also referred to as the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. Each year, 50,000 applicants are randomly selected. To qualify for this program, you must live in a qualifying country and meet educational/training requirements. Whereas in Canada, there is no lottery-style process for selection of candidates.