With the 2016 presidential election on the horizon, it begs the question, how many of you lawful permanent resident (LPR) or green card holders have thought about becoming U.S. citizens or have pending U.S. citizenship applications? Being a U.S. citizen has many benefits.
The advantages of becoming a U.S. citizen over a permanent resident are many. Here are the top .
1. No Need To Renew Your Green Card. As a U.S citizen you will not need to renew your green card every 10 years and you will no longer be required to carry your green card with you.
2. The Risk of Removal (Deportation) is Reduced. LPRs or Green Card holders may be removed for committing certain crimes. A U.S. citizen who commits a crime cannot be deported with certain limited exceptions. For example, if you lied to get your green card or U.S. citizenship, it will be revoked (taken back).
3. Easier Travel and Re-Entry into the U.S. As green card holder, upon returning from your trips aboard, you generally have to deal with the long lines reserved for green card holders. This will no longer be the case when you are a U.S. citizen. These lines are generally shorter. Also, in many instances, you can visit foreign countries without a visa.
4. Ability to Take Long Trips Outside the United States. You will be allowed to take long trips out of the United States without the risk of losing your ability to return.
If you leave the U.S. for more than 180 days (6 months), as a permanent resident, you may lose your green card upon re-entry into the U.S. The immigration officer can deem that you have abandoned your green card and deny you entry back into the U.S. If you know you are leaving the U.S.for more than 6 months you should speak to an immigration attorney. You may be able to obtain a re-entry permit prior to leaving the United States. This would allow you to travel out of the United States for as long as 2 years without abandoning your green card.
5. Ability to Petition More Family Members. U.S. citizens can petition for more types of family member than than green card holders. For example, only U.S. citizens may petition for parent, siblings, married children and their fiancee. The waiting time for U.S. citizens petition is incredibly shorter than a green card holder. If you wish to petition a family member, please consult with a competent immigration attorney before taking any action.
6. Ability of Your Green-Card-Holding Children to Become U.S. Citizens. When you become a U.S. citizen, your unmarried children under 18 will automatically become a U.S. citizen too! However, they must meet the following criteria: They must be lawful permanent residents; they must be residing in the United States; and they must be in the legal and physical custody of the naturalizing parent.
7. Ability to Vote and to Run for Public Office. Only U.S. citizens may vote. Naturalized U.S. citizens can run for most elected public offices.
8. Ability to Obtain Federal Jobs, Grants, and Other Government Benefits. Certain jobs require U.S. citizenship. These include many local, state, and federal government jobs. Many federal grants and scholarships are available only to U.S. citizens.
9. Tax and Estate Reasons. U.S. citizens and green card holders are not always treated the same for tax and estate purposes. Speak to a Certified Public Accountant about these issues.
10. Ability to Obtain a U.S. Passport. U.S. citizens have the right to obtain a passport and the ability to obtain assistance from U.S. Embassies and Consulates when traveling in other countries.
Becoming a U.S. Citizen is 4 easy Steps
- You must meet the eligibility requirements. See Why is Good Moral Character Important for Permanent Residents?
- Submit form N-400 and pay the $680 filing fee (as of 2015)
- U.S. Citzenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) will scheduled an appointment for fingerprinting and a background check. If all goes well, you will interview with a USCIS immigration officer and take an English reading, writing and civics test. Some green card holders may be exempt from the English and Civics Requirements for Naturalization.
- If all goes well at your naturalization interview, you receive a letter from USCIS with information for your Oath Ceremony where you will receive your certificate of naturalization.