Why Should I Become a U.S. Citizen?

A GREEN CARD HOLDER CAN BE DEPORTED

An alien, even a green card holder, can be deported from the U.S. If a green card holder commits certain crimes. The government can, through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and regularly does, initiate removal/deportation proceedings against aliens who are convicted of domestic violence, stalking, or child abandonment. Conviction of possession of illegal substance, including Marijuana, is another crime that can render an alien deportable. You may think only an alien who commits a very serious crime will face deportation proceedings, and you will be wrong. "I defended a client in removal proceedings, a very caring and decent man, who was convicted of child neglect simply because the babysitter canceled on him and he was forced to leave his sleeping son alone at home to go to work at night. Unfortunately, his son woke up, cried, and neighbors called the police." Said Kamyar Ghorbanebrahimi, an associate attorney at Martin Law. He added, "Had my client applied to become a U.S. citizen, he would never go through such a traumatic experience."

GREEN CARD CAN BE TAKEN FROM YOU

A green card holder, by definition, is an alien permanent resident of the U.S. If a green card holder remains out of the U.S. for an extended period, a year as an example, he/she may be found to have abandoned his/her green card. The same is true if you fail to file income tax returns while living outside of the United States or declare yourself a "nonimmigrant" on your U.S. tax returns.

On the contrary, a U.S. citizen will remain a U.S. citizen, even if he/she leaves the U.S. and never comes back.

PETITION FOR RELATIVES

As a green card holder, you can petition for your unmarried children and your spouse to immigrate to the U.S. After your petition is approved, you must wait until a visa number becomes available for your loved ones. The length of the time your loved ones must wait for a visa is significantly longer if he/she is a child who is more than 21 years old. As a green card holder, you cannot petition for your children if they are married.

In addition to petitioning for unmarried children and spouse, a U.S. citizen can also petition for his/her married children, parents, and siblings. More importantly, a U.S. citizen does not need to wait for a visa number for his/her spouse, parents, and children who are single and less than 21 years old. The process is much faster.

AUTOMATIC CITIZENSHIP FOR YOUR CHILDREN

An under 18 years old child automatically acquires U.S. citizenship the day one of his/her parents acquire citizenship if the child is a green card holder and resides in the U.S. with the parent who acquired citizenship.

By becoming a citizen, you help your children to become citizens of the U.S. and enjoy all the benefits that come with it.

RIGHT TO VOTE

An alien, including a permanent resident alien, does not have the right vote in federal elections. To be more precise, voting in federal elections, or even registering to vote in a federal election, is a crime if you are not a U.S. citizen; and if you commit this crime, you can be deported from the U.S.

The day you become a U.S. citizen, you can engage in the political destiny of the U.S. and vote in a federal election. You can vote for the presidential or congressional nominee you think is the best.

TRAVELING ABROAD AS A U.S. CITIZEN

When an alien travels abroad, he/she must use the passport of his/her home country. A green card holder is not treated as a U.S. citizen by other countries and does not enjoy the same privileges. Depending on the alien's country of origin, he/she might need to request a visa before planning his/her trip. Often, requesting a visa requires you to complete multiple forms, pay multiple fees, appear for an interview, and to be fingerprinted.

U.S. passport is one of the most respected passports in the world. "Individuals that travel with a U.S. passport can travel to more than 160 countries without a visa." Said Kamyar Ghorbanebrahimi, an associate attorney at Martin Law. A U.S. citizen does not need a visa if he is traveling to one of the numerous countries that waived the visa requirement for an individual who holds a U.S. passport.

Most immigrants endure enormous difficulties to become a permanent resident. The day you became a green card holder was a milestone, you became free to live and work in the U.S. However, to fully and truly reap the benefits of your endeavors, you should apply for naturalization and become a citizen the first day you meet the requirements to apply.