Proponents of U.S. citizenship will often point out the patriotic and emotional benefits of naturalization. These are all valid reasons, but naturalizing as a U.S. citizen is just downright practical for permanent residents.
Individuals with lawful permanent resident status (green holders) often weigh the value of becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. Many are satisfied with the ability to live and work in the United States, but many others want more. The Constitution and laws of the United States give many rights to both citizens and non-citizens living in the United States.
There are several rights and privileges afforded only to U.S. citizens, but consider these three practical benefits of U.S. citizenship:
In the long term, USCIS filing fees for naturalization are far less expensive than maintaining permanent resident status. It’s more cost-effective to become a U.S. citizen.
The current USCIS fee for replacing or renewing a green card is $450. A permanent resident will pay $450 to renew a green card, and will have to do it again in another 10 years. Don’t forget, if the green card is lost, stolen or damaged, it will cost another $450 to replace it. What’s more, USCIS fees keep rising. Over just the last 10 years USCIS fees for green card renewal have increased significantly.
On the other hand, the one-time USCIS fee for the naturalization application is $680. Sure, this is a bit more expensive in the short term, but U.S. citizenship is good for a lifetime. Over the course of many years, it is significantly less expensive. After all, you won’t ever have to pay another USCIS fee again! The difference is staggering. Use the Citizenship Cost Calculator to compare.
USCIS recently announced its plan to increase fees for green card renewal and naturalization. The cost to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, is expected to increase from $680 to $725 soon. The cost to file Form I-90 is also expected to increase. To beat the fee increase, applicants should file as soon as possible.
When it comes to traveling abroad and immigrating other family members, U.S. citizens get the VIP service. There’s no comparison. Those who want to travel outside the United States or petition more family members to immigrate to the U.S. will get priority over permanent residents.
U.S. citizens have the privilege of helping family members immigrate much faster than permanent residents can. That’s because the number of immediate relative (spouses, unmarried children and parents) immigrant visas is unlimited. There is no cap. On the other hand, family preference immigrant visas are for relatives of lawful permanent residents. Unfortunately, there are a limited number of visas issued for each category. As a result, there can be very long wait times that span several years.
What’s more, a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent or parents may acquire U.S. citizenship at birth. This is not the case for permanent resident parents.
There are tremendous benefits of obtaining a U.S. passport. A U.S. passport will allow a traveler entry into most countries around the world without a hassle. Specific countries that work with the United States on the Visa Waiver Program will allow entry to U.S. passport holders for a specific amount of time, so you won’t need to purchase a visa to travel there. A U.S. passport allows a U.S. citizen to get assistance from the American government when overseas.
Few people expect to be arrested for a crime. But the risks for a permanent resident are much higher. Permanent residency can be revoked. Many crimes can result in deportation of a permanent resident or at least create major (and expensive) problems just to renew a green card.
Every time a permanent resident reenters the United States after traveling abroad, reentry is at the discretion of a Customs & Border Protection officer. That CBP officer has the power to refuse entry and make life miserable for the permanent resident. An old photo or discrepancy of information could create another time-consuming and expensive headache.
On the other hand, citizenship is good for life. Citizenship cannot be revoked unless there is substantial evidence of a crime against the state.
These are just three practical benefits of U.S. citizenship. Of course, there are several more benefits to becoming a U.S. citizen through naturalization:
Only U.S. citizens can vote in Federal elections. Most States also restrict the right to vote, in most elections, to U.S. citizens. This is a powerful right that gives U.S. citizens the ability to steer the American government on decisions related to immigration reform, healthcare and more.
- Becoming Eligible for Federal Jobs
Most jobs with government agencies require U.S. citizenship.
- Becoming an Elected Official
Some naturalized citizens want to take a more active role governing America. Many elected offices in this country require U.S. citizenship.
- Showing your patriotism
Becoming a U.S. citizen is a way to demonstrate your commitment to your new country.
- Financial Aid
In many cases only U.S. citizens are eligible for the financial aid grants made by the government, including college scholarships.
CitizenPath is the online service that makes immigration forms simple. The website provides simple, step-by-step guidance through USCIS applications and petitions. The low-cost service helps to simplify the process by explaining each question and providing alerts if your answer to a question could be a problem. Most people do not need a lawyer to prepare USCIS forms, but many need a little assistance. That’s where CitizenPath can help. CitizenPath provides support for the Citizenship Application (Form N-400), Green Card Renewal (Form I-90), and several other popular forms.