Benefits of US Citizenship: Is It Worth It?
You want to enjoy the benefits of US citizenship, but what do they include? Michael G. Murray, P.A. can outline your rights and help protect them. Call now!
US Citizenship Benefits
After getting a green card, living in the US for a certain number of years, and fulfilling all naturalization requirements, permanent residents can take their immigration status a notch higher by applying for citizenship. However, for many, this might mean renouncing their original citizenship depending on their home country’s rules.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, you might be confused about whether applying for US citizenship after a green card is the right choice.
Is it worth potentially losing your original citizenship? The truth is, only you can decide whether or not it is truly worth it. A law firm practicing immigration procedures may also be able to assist you. To help your decision, we have outlined some important information about US citizenship and its benefits.
What Is Citizenship?
According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), “citizenship is a unique bond that unites people around civic ideals and a belief in the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution.” A citizen is a US national with irrevocable rights and federal benefits guaranteed by the law. Unless in very rare circumstances, one cannot be stripped of citizenship once it is acquired by naturalization.
On becoming a citizen, you attain the highest immigration status possible in the United States. This has many advantages compared to other immigrant statuses or lawful permanent residents.
What Are the Benefits of Naturalizing as a US Citizen?
Some of the benefits of US citizenship include:
No Risk of Losing Immigration Status
Like a permanent resident, a citizen’s freedom to live in the United States does not have an expiry date. Under regular circumstances, neither can be deported to their country of origin. However, a citizen is at an advantage because they cannot lose their citizenship in circumstances where green card holders would lose their legal permanent residency.
Such circumstances include living outside the country for an extended period, such as up to a year. Also, committing certain types of crimes, like violent ones, could lead to a loss of permanent resident status. However, US citizens can stay outside the country for as long as possible without worrying about losing their status. Similarly, they are charged with crimes as a citizen and cannot be deported.
The major exception is when a person obtains citizenship through fraud or misrepresentation. It will be counted as fraud if such a person got their green card illegally and then legally qualified, applied for, and obtained citizenship. However, you wouldn’t face such risks if you legally got your green card through employment-based immigration or another visa pathway and legally processed your citizenship application.
Another benefit of being a US citizen is that you can sponsor more family members to become permanent residents. A legal permanent resident can only sponsor their spouse and unmarried children below 21 years old. These relatives fall under limited family preference visas and may take several years to become available.
However, citizens may file a petition for their spouse, children, and parents under the immediate relative category. This is an unlimited visa group, meaning there is no waiting time for visas to become available, as they always are. In addition, they can also sponsor non-immediate relatives such as siblings (biological, adopted, and step) and married adult children under the family preference visa category.
Voting and Running for Public Office
One thing that differentiates a lawful permanent resident from a citizen is the right to vote. The general rule is that only United States citizens can vote in US elections. An LPR registering to vote in federal elections could jeopardize their immigration status and lead to possible deportation. If you find yourself in this situation, a naturalization & citizenship lawyer may be able to help your case.
In some states, LPRs are allowed to vote in local elections, but this is very rare and limited. Similarly, applying for certain federal jobs or running for public office is a privilege reserved for US citizens.
Other Federal Benefits
There are benefits only available to United States citizens, like federal government loans, grants, scholarships, jury service, and other forms of financial assistance. Acquiring citizenship allows you to have access to these government benefits.
As a United States Citizen, you become eligible for a passport. Owning a US passport comes with numerous benefits. You can travel to almost any country worldwide for a short-term trip without a visa. This makes traveling as a tourist, visiting friends and families, or for other purposes much less stressful. Also, you will be entitled to the help of the US embassy or consulate in whatever country you travel to.
In the long run, applying for citizenship is cheaper than renewing your green card every ten years. If you plan on staying in the United States permanently, you might as well trade in the $540 green card renewal fee for a one-time citizenship application fee of $725.
Automatic Citizenship for Children
Upon naturalizing, your children under 18 years old automatically get citizen status. However, they must be legal permanent residents, unmarried, and in your physical and legal custody.
After naturalizing, whether your children are born abroad or in the US, they also become US citizens. All you need to do if they are born abroad is report their birth to the consulate or embassy in their country of birth.
US immigration law permits dual citizenship, meaning you do not need to renounce US citizenship to become a citizen of another country. However, your country of origin may not support dual citizenship as an immigrant. In this case, becoming a US citizen may require you to renounce your allegiance to another country.
Dual nationality may have attendant issues, such as a clash of interests or laws between countries, and the individual owes allegiance to both countries. Determining your country of origin’s laws concerning dual nationality is important before applying for US citizenship. If you live in Texas, consult an immigration lawyer in Austin, Texas, to guide you in your immigration process.
Why Hire a Lawyer?
Establishing an attorney-client relationship with a competent immigration lawyer can smooth the process for you. It is a confidential relationship where they can process your sensitive or confidential information and help you with unique issues that may come up in your citizenship application.
For help with immigration paperwork or information about the process, contact Michael G. Murray, P.A., to schedule an appointment.