There are many different ways that you may legally enter and live in the United States. Two common options if you want to remain here for the long-term are permanent residency and naturalization.
According to Stilt, the rights you have are the biggest difference between these two long-term immigration options.
As a permanent resident, you have the right to live in the U.S. for as long as you want, but you are not a citizen of the country. Therefore, you cannot get a U.S. passport, join the military or participate in political activities, such as voting or running for office.
In addition, if you leave the country for more than a year, it can put your status in jeopardy. You will have to reapply.
You can work while in the U.S., and you will pay taxes, which entitle you to certain benefits, such as Social Security. You also can get financial aid for education.
Your rights to sponsor family members to come into the country do have limits to only immediate family members. There is a limit on the number of visas for family members of permanent residents each year.
Naturalization is when you become a U.S. citizen and gain all rights of a citizen. You cannot lose your status even if you leave the country. You can vote and run for office. You also will be able to have a U.S. passport and join the military.
You can join the military, and you have no restrictions on your employment. You also have more options to sponsor family to come into the country. The visas for relatives of citizens also do not have any annual limits.