Getting involved in the campaign as a non-citizen
September 13, 2008 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Can permanent residents (not US citizens) get involved in the political campaign?

I have a 2 year temporary green card that will hopefully become permanent next year. I can't vote, but I want to volunteer as a community organizer for the Obama campaign. Are there any restrictions to this in the US law? Can this affect my immigration process in any conceivable way?
posted by papalotl to Law & Government (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, Yes , God No. Go ahead
posted by Rubbstone at 7:50 PM on September 13, 2008

Looks like you just can't vote. I think you can even donate to campaigns:

" Check this box to confirm that the following statements are true and accurate:
:: I am a United States citizen or a lawfully-admitted permanent resident...."
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 8:02 PM on September 13, 2008

It would help if I made those real links, huh?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 8:04 PM on September 13, 2008

Best answer: I am a permanent U.S. resident (a E.U. citizen).

I was a high school senior in the U.S. before I had my permanent residence card (J-2 visa thanks to scientist dad), and for our Government class, I had to spend a certain number of hours working for a political campaign of our choice. My immigration status was not at all a problem when I inquired about it at the time.

As a permanent green card holder, you are allowed to donate not only your time, but money as well (I am not sure about temporary green cards when it comes to donating your money).

This also may be of interest to you: last month I was hired as a poll worker in Seattle, even though I am not permitted to vote. Requirements for volunteering at elections vary, however‒here in Houston, only U.S. citizens can be poll workers.
posted by halogen at 8:15 PM on September 13, 2008

Uh, I don't think you can donate money unless you're actually a full permanent resident. But you can sure help in other ways. Go ahead and call the local campaign office.
posted by meta_eli at 8:16 PM on September 13, 2008

I don't think you can donate money unless you're actually a full permanent resident.

That is correct (according to the fine print on the many solicitations I get in the mail).
posted by gimonca at 9:04 PM on September 13, 2008

Best answer: The USCIS definition of 'conditional permanent resident' talks about it being a temporary grant of permanent resident status, so I think you're okay to donate (in combination with this FEC note), but as with all immigration-related matters, you could probably ask three people and get five different interpretations. (The definition of permanent resident that the FEC relies upon is here.)

No reason at all why you can't volunteer.
posted by holgate at 9:31 PM on September 13, 2008

Best answer: Yes, please do volunteer! I've known people on student visas (definitely not permanent residents) who volunteered on campaigns. You should be fine. Hell, campaigns occasionally have foreign nationals working as paid staffers.

As for donating, I'd maybe call HQ and see what they say. Really, it's up to the campaign how much risk they want to assume in taking donations from foreign nationals.
posted by lunasol at 10:34 PM on September 13, 2008

Volunteer! So much more useful than a donation, and available to anyone even a visitor.
posted by airplain at 1:32 AM on September 14, 2008

I'm pretty sure a two-year green card gives you all the privileges of a ten-year green card. You can donate money.
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:11 AM on September 14, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you all!
posted by papalotl at 11:26 AM on September 14, 2008

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