October 28, 2019

If you have a green card, do not register to vote

With national elections happening every 4 years and midterms occurring every 2 years in between those elections, candidates are always trying to earn the opportunity to represent their political parties on the next ballot. If you are a permanent resident, there is a good chance you have formed some strong political opinions. As a legal permanent resident, though, you should not try to register to vote. 

Pretending to be a U.S. citizen when you are in fact not is a serious matter. For green card holders, a false claim of citizenship may result in removal from the United States. Furthermore, you may trigger a lifetime ban on returning to the country. 

Michigan voter registration 

The Michigan voter registration form asks individuals to identify their citizenship status. Specifically, the form requires you to answer affirmatively or negatively to the question, “Are you a citizen of the United States of America?” If you attempt to register to vote and check “no,” elections officials can reject your registration. If you check “yes,” though, when you are instead a legal permanent resident, you are making a false claim to U.S. citizenship. This exposes you to criminal liability pursuant to both federal and state law. 

Understanding Your Green Card Status In Federal Elections

If you are a permanent resident of the United States, you hold what is commonly referred to as a Green Card. This card is a legal document that proves your status as a permanent resident. As a Green Card holder, you enjoy many of the same rights as a U.S. citizen, such as the right to work and live in the United States. However, there are certain limitations to your rights as a Green Card holder.

It is important to understand that a Green Card does not make you a U.S. citizen. While you may have the right to live and work in the United States, you cannot vote in federal elections. Green Card holders are not eligible to vote in any federal election, including presidential elections.

It is also important to note that if you attempt to vote in a federal election as a Green Card holder, you could face serious consequences. This includes possible deportation and criminal penalties. Therefore, it is crucial to understand your voting rights and limitations as a Green Card holder to avoid any legal issues.

Consequences of Illegal Voting

If you attempt to vote illegally as a green card holder, you can face serious consequences, including deportation. It is important to understand the rules and regulations surrounding voting as a green card holder to avoid any legal issues.

In addition, attempting to vote illegally can also affect your future eligibility for U.S. citizenship. If you are caught attempting to vote illegally, it can be seen as a lack of good moral character, which is a requirement for naturalization.

In conclusion, while the rules for voting as a green card holder can be complex, it is important to understand the legal implications of voting with a green card. Always check the rules and regulations in your state and jurisdiction before attempting to vote, and avoid any illegal activity that can jeopardize your future in the United States.

Alternative Ways to Participate in Michigan’s Political Process

If you are a green card holder, you may be wondering if there are any alternative ways to participate in the political process besides voting. Fortunately, there are several ways you can make your voice heard and contribute to the political leadership of your state or country.

Contact Your Elected Officials

One of the most effective ways to make your voice heard is to contact your elected officials. You can write letters, send emails, or make phone calls to your representatives in Congress, state legislatures, and local governments. You can express your opinions on issues that matter to you, and ask your elected officials to take action on those issues.

Join a Political Party or Advocacy Group

Another way to participate in the political process is to join a political party or advocacy group. You can find a group that aligns with your values and interests, and work with them to promote policies and candidates that you support. You can attend meetings, volunteer for campaigns, and help organize events to raise awareness about important issues.

Follow the News and Stay Informed

Staying informed about current events and political issues is essential if you want to participate in the political process. You can follow the news on TV, radio, or online, and read newspapers, magazines, and blogs. You can also attend public forums, debates, and town hall meetings to hear directly from candidates and elected officials.

Participate in Community Service and Activism

Community service and activism are other ways to make a difference in your community and contribute to the political process. You can volunteer for local organizations, participate in protests and rallies, and work to improve your neighborhood or city. By getting involved in your community, you can help create positive change and make a difference in the lives of others.


You should understand that you do not have to vote to violate the law. Merely asserting you are a citizen when you are not can be sufficient to trigger immigration consequences. If you do not vote, officials may not notice your false claim to citizenship. If you ever apply to become a U.S. citizen, though, your false claim may result in your deportation. 


If you have never falsely claimed to be a citizen of the United States and are otherwise eligible to naturalize, doing so is the right way to make your voice heard. The naturalization process can take a significant amount of time, however. Before you have received your naturalization certificate and attended your swearing-in ceremony, you should abstain both from registering to vote and casting a ballot. 

Clearly, for legal permanent residents, registering to vote in the United States is a big mistake. By understanding the consequences of making a false claim to U.S. citizenship, you can better avoid serious immigration consequences.