If you like to stay on top of current events, it may be impossible to avoid politics. After all, the 24-hour news cycle constantly feeds individuals you about federal, state and local governments. If you want to have a say in your community, it may be tempting to register to vote.
Voting is a privilege for U.S. citizens, so legal permanent residents cannot vote in most U.S. elections. If you register to vote or cast a ballot, you may encounter serious immigration consequences.
What are the consequences of voting illegally?
If you are not a U.S. citizen, it is probably illegal to vote in U.S. elections. Registering to vote or casting a ballot may expose you to criminal prosecution. This means you could lose your freedom and pay a steep fine.
Even worse, there is a good chance immigration officials will take action against you. Registering to vote and voting are common ways to make a false claim of U.S. citizenship.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Services, falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen makes you both inadmissible to the U.S. and removable from the country. Regrettably, inadmissibility waivers are not usually available to those who make false claims of U.S. citizenship.
How can you vote legally?
If you want to participate in U.S. elections, it is possible to become eligible to vote in them. To do so, though, you must first become a U.S. citizen. This requires going through the naturalization process, which you may or may not be eligible to do currently.
Ultimately, until you receive your naturalization certificate, you can avoid the terrible criminal and immigration consequences that come with voting as a legal permanent resident simply by sitting on the sidelines.