Why U.S. Citizenship?
Many new U.S. residents question why it is so important to take the next step toward citizenship, when U.S. residency or a “green card” accomplishes similar benefits of work, travel and residency in the U.S. However, it is important to remember and recognize that this is a false sense of security.
Differences Between Citizenship and Permanent Resident Status
U.S. residency is a privilege, not a right, whereas U.S. citizenship is a right and not just a privilege. As such, your protections under the law are significantly increased as a citizen when compared to that of a resident. While it is true that applicants for U.S. citizenship must be comfortable in the English language, the benefits that accompany this right are tremendous.
Benefits of U.S. Citizenship
One of the most significant benefits of U.S. citizenship is sponsorship. A U.S. citizen is able to sponsor his or her parents living abroad. A citizen is also able to sponsor a foreign spouse on an immediate basis, whereas it takes several years for a green card holder to sponsor a spouse. Additionally, a citizen will be able to sponsor a child under the age of 21 and not experience significant wait periods. Barring criminal activity or fraud, a U.S. citizen will retain citizenship even if he or she elects to live abroad. A U.S. citizen is an American for life.
Let us not forget that one of the most noteworthy benefits of in favor of becoming a U.S. citizen is the right to vote. This right is conferred at the swearing in ceremony for U.S. naturalization; a proud moment.
Listed below are more U.S. Citizenship benefits:
- U.S. passport – A U.S. passport facilitates you to receive assistance from the U.S. government when traveling overseas.
- Bringing family members to the U.S. – U.S. citizens generally receive priority when petitioning to bring family members permanently to the U.S.
- College tuition – State universities offer college tuition and fees to residents that are significantly lower than foreign student tuition.
- Homestead Exemption. Many states have laws in place that benefit resident homeowners and protect them from rising taxes.
- Work Anywhere – Certain jobs with government agencies require U.S. citizenship.
- Becoming an elected official – Only citizens are permitted run for federal office (U.S. Senate or House of Representatives) and for most State and local offices.
- Keeping your residency – A U.S. citizen’s right to remain in the United States cannot be taken away under any circumstances.
- Obtaining government benefits. Some government benefits are available only to U.S. citizens.