After several years of living in the United States as a permanent resident, you may ask yourself whether it is better to continue to renew your green card or to go ahead and apply for citizenship via the naturalization process. Generally, a person can naturalize if he or she holds a green card, spends a specified amount of time in the U.S., can prove good moral character, and can demonstrate a working knowledge of English and U.S. civics.
The various steps required for naturalization can often feel overwhelming or confusing, but the benefits of being a U.S. citizen often far outweigh the risks. Regardless, your journey can be simplified with the assistance of a dedicated attorney who knows how to make sense of the process.
Practical Advantages of U.S. Citizenship
There are many practical benefits of going through the naturalization process. Below are the most prevalent advantages of obtaining citizenship in the United States:
- Ability to travel
- Sponsoring family members
- Financial savings over time
- Eligibility for jobs and scholarships
Ability to Travel and Sponsoring Family Members
A U.S. passport permits a citizen to ask for assistance from the U.S. government when he or she is abroad. Citizens are also permitted to leave the country for long periods of time, unlike green card holders. American citizens typically can sponsor close family members from their home country who want to immigrate to the U.S. The process is faster when family members are sponsored by a citizen instead of a permanent resident.
Financial Savings Over Time and Eligibility for Jobs and Scholarships
Once someone becomes a citizen, he or she will never have to apply for or renew permission to live or work in the United States. Permanent residents, by contrast, must renew their green card every 10 years and pay applicable fees. Certain scholarships and jobs, especially federal jobs, are only available to U.S. citizens
Personal Advantages of U.S. Citizenship
Some personal benefits of U.S. citizenship may prove to be a worthwhile decision in the long run:
- Right to vote
- Feelings of Belonging
Right to Vote and Stability
The right to vote in federal elections rests only with American citizens. Participation in most state and local elections is also limited to citizens. When someone obtains citizenship, he or she can become a more active participant in your community, add his or her voice to the political conversation, and influence the way his or her new country functions.
In virtually all cases, citizenship reduces the risk of deportation. Unless someone committed fraud during his or her immigration proceedings, citizenship is permanent. Once a person becomes a citizen, he or she is typically immune from deportation.
Feelings of Belonging
This advantage is harder to describe, but citizenship often increases a person’s sense of acceptance and inclusion amongst fellow Americans. Citizenship can help a person feel that he or she truly has a relationship with his or her new country.
A Word of Caution
It should be noted that naturalization is not the best solution for some permanent residents. When a person applies for citizenship, a criminal background check will be conducted and their immigration file will be reopened for review. If someone has a criminal background or a history of fraud or misrepresentation, he or she should consult with an immigration attorney to ensure that naturalization is the best route to take.
Take Advantage of the Benefits of Being a Citizen of the United States
A Lombard lawyer can help you analyze whether you are ready to naturalize, prepare your application, and ensure that you satisfy the requirements. Call today to schedule an initial consultation and begin your journey towards citizenship and all the benefits of being a U.S. citizen it entails. By meeting with an attorney, you are not only giving yourself the opportunity to pursue citizenship, but you may also be giving your family the chance of pursuing a bright future.