Top 10 Reasons to Become a Citizen:
- The Right to Vote: Only U.S. Citizens can vote their representatives into political office.
- Not Being Deported: Permanent Residents remain under the authority of USCIS and the Immigration Courts and are subject to potential deportation. As a U.S. Citizen, your right to remain in the U.S. cannot be taken away.
- Government Jobs and Benefits: Some government jobs and benefits are only available to U.S. Citizens. In fact some government agencies specifically do not protect permanent residents eligible for Citizenship who decided not to become Citizens within 6 months of eligibility.
- Public Office: You must be a U.S. Citizen to run for or hold public office.
- The Right to Sponsor Family Members for a Green Card: Becoming a U.S. Citizen comes with the privilege of being able to sponsor relatives for a green card (including parents, children, spouses, and siblings).
- Protecting Your Children: Permanent Resident Children under the age of 18 (in their parent’s lawful/legal custody) automatically become citizens.
- U.S. passport: When traveling with a U.S. passport abroad, you will have the full force of the U.S. Government behind you. This includes assistance from U.S. embassies if needed.
- Guaranteed Re-entry to the United States After Traveling Abroad: After leaving the U.S. for more than 180 days, Permanent Residents can lose their green card upon attempted re-entry if the Port of Entry determines that the green card has been abandoned. An immigration attorney can obtain a re-entry permit for green card holders. This allows Permanent Residents to travel abroad for up to two years without “abandoning” his/her U.S. residence.
- Grants and Scholarships: Many College Scholarships and other Federal Grants are only available to U.S. Citizens.
- Tax and Estate Reasons: Property left to a spouse is exempt from the estate tax, if the spouse is a U.S. Citizen. The tax code also allows other free transfers of property between U.S. Citizen spouses. If the spouse is not a U.S. Citizen the transfer is subject to taxation.
If you have been a legal permanent resident (with a green card) for at least 5 years, these are the requirements to apply for Citizenship:
- Be 18 or older
- Be a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
- Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application
- Have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of the filing the application
- Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
- Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
- Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).
- Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law
Other paths to Citizenship:
You may apply for naturalization if…
- You are married to a U.S. citizen and have been a legal permanent resident for at least 3 years
- You are in the military, or if your spouse or parents are in the military
- Any of your parents is a U.S. citizen