The top 5 reasons you should consider US citizenship
Being a United States citizen has many perks. I became a US citizen in 1988 after coming to America from South Korea. I’ve recognized the honor and privilege that accompanies US citizenship after learning about the complexities of immigration law.
There are a few ways to become a US citizen. The most popular way is through naturalization, where you apply and seek permission from the US government to become a citizen. Depending on your actions and how long you have had your green card, you can apply for citizenship.
I will discuss the basic eligibility for naturalization in a later blog post, but for now, I’ll focus on 5 reasons you should consider US citizenship if you’re a lawful permanent resident (green card holder):
1. No filing for renewals or replacements of your green card
Green card holders need to reapply for a green card every 10 years via Form I-90. Unless you apply for a fee waiver, the current fee to reapply is $450. If you accidentally lose your green card, you still need to file and pay the $450 fee. If you obtain US citizenship, you do not need to carry a card in your wallet and you do need to pay renewal fees ever again!
2. Ease of travel
Once you obtain US citizenship, you are eligible to travel with a US passport. You won’t have to worry about renewing your passport from your home country. Also, if you wish to visit certain countries, having a US passport can mean that you do not have to pre-apply for a travel visa; you are eligible to “waive” in with just your US passport. And, you may be able to finally visit some countries using a US passport that you could not visit with a passport from your home country.
3. You can live outside of the US
When you have a green card, you can typically only remain outside of the US for less than 6 months. If you stay outside of the US for longer than 6 months, the US government can consider your green card “abandoned” and can take it away at the airport! If you obtain US citizenship, you can travel for long periods of time or even live outside of the US for as long as you want.
4. Sponsorship of family members
As a lawful permanent resident, you can only sponsor certain family members to live permanently in the United States. Currently, green card holders can only sponsor their spouses, their minor children (under age 21) and their unmarried sons and daughters (over age 21). If you become a US citizen, you can sponsor your spouse, children, married and unmarried sons and daughters, parents, and siblings. And, if you are a US citizen, your parents, spouse, and minor children are considered “immediate relatives,” meaning that they do not have to wait for an available visa, but can come to the US right away.
5. Ability to vote
One of the reasons why you may have decided to come to America is because you value and wish to participate in the democratic process. As a green card holder, you have probably lived here for years without having a real say in politics. As a US citizen, you have the ability to vote in local, state, and national elections. Casting that first vote and having a voice in democracy will feel incredible and bring a sense of accomplishment.
In my next blog post, I will discuss reasons why you may not want to become a US citizen. As always, contact me if you are interested in learning more and applying for citizenship.