I hear something along these lines from prospective clients quite often: “I have been a permanent resident for 12 years. My wife wants me to become a U.S. citizen, but I am not sure I want to. What are the benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen?”
There are several reasons to become a U.S. citizen, especially if you and your family intend to make the U.S. your permanent home. For various reasons, some residents do not care to apply for citizenship, even when they fully qualify and could easily pass the citizenship exams. Hopefully, after reading this blog, some of those residents will understand why it is important to become a U.S. citizen.
Only U.S. citizens can vote in the most important elections in the U.S. For example residents cannot vote for the U.S. President or members of Congress. Voting is the way to make your voice heard and to effect change in the U.S. Many immigrants and their families hope to benefit from comprehensive immigration reform. Although the prospects of immigration reform look better now than they have in years, the unfortunate fact is that the U.S. government has neglected this need for far too long. The same immigrants who are hoping for change should be eager to become citizens so that they can one day be the force behind the push that eventually creates comprehensive immigration reform.
Only U.S. citizens are guaranteed entry into the U.S. and are guaranteed protection from deportation. Residents run the risk of abandoning their permanent residency if they spend long periods of time outside of the U.S. Some residents also encounter problems upon return to the U.S. because of old criminal convictions. Citizens will never run into these problems. Once you become a citizen you can obtain a U.S. passport and can return to the U.S. after spending long periods of time outside of the country. The U.S. government can place residents in deportation proceedings if they commit certain crimes. This can even happened for crimes that are not considered serious. Although I don’t condone committing crimes, I do recommend becoming a citizen to protect yourself from deportation.
Another benefit of becoming a citizen is that you will no longer have to report information to immigration authorities or renew your green card every ten years. It currently costs $450 to renew a green card and immigration authorities seem to raise the price substantially every few years. Why not just become a U.S. citizen and forget about reporting information to immigration and renewing your green card?
There are several other reasons to become a citizen. Other reasons include being able to immigrate more family members to the U.S., automatically passing citizenship to your minor resident children, avoiding certain tax consequences, and becoming eligible for federal jobs, political offices, federal grants, and college scholarships.