Next question comes from Pedro Estevez: “What’s the main benefit or benefits to becoming a citizen rather than just keeping my green card?” You know, that’s an excellent question. One of the biggest benefits that I’m aware of is that as a US citizen, you can get a US passport. With a US passport, you can travel to quite a few countries without obtaining a visa. So, to me, that’s probably one of the bigger benefits. You can also vote in our country as a citizen. That’s the two biggest things that I’m aware of.
Yeah, and also, there’s … Kind of related to what Rick mentioned about the passport, if you’re on a green card, no matter how long you’ve been here — you could be here 15 years — if you’ve still got a green card, you … You know, unless you get a travel … advance parole, you really can’t leave the country for extended periods of time. Now, if you have no plans of leaving, then that’s irrelevant, but if you want to go back to your country and stay a year, really, if you hold a green card, you leave the country, after about six months, you’re going to have a little resistance getting back in. After a year, they’re going to consider … A year out of the country on a green card, they’re going to consider you’ve abandoned it, and now you’re starting all over.
So if you want to go back home, a parent gets sick and you want to take care of them, or you want to go back to your country to go to school or something, and stay an extended period of time, then you absolutely want to naturalize first, if you’re eligible, because then you can stay out, whatever, 20 years, doesn’t matter. So that’s another big benefit, and believe me, we see a lot of cases where people had no intention of leaving, but they do. You know, Mom gets sick, it seems critical, you go to the country, and it turns out it’s a long, lingering illness, and a year and a half later, unfortunately Mom’s passed, or got better, or something, and now you want to come back, and you’ve lost your green card because you stayed out too long.
So that’s some of the considerations, like Rick says, and then another consideration that hopefully doesn’t apply to you, but a green card can always be revoked. It doesn’t happen often, but it can happen, where naturalization can’t. So if you’re a citizen, if you become a citizen, you naturalize … And of course, everything’s honest. Now, obviously, if you commit fraud on the naturalization process, they can revoke it, and it has happened. But if you did a straight-up citizenship, and everything’s legit, you’re a citizen now for life, unless you choose voluntarily to revoke it. Green card holders, not the case. Any felony you commit, you could go to prison, and then they could kick you out of the country, and again, it doesn’t happen often, but it definitely happens, and it can happen.
So there’s several good reasons to do it. I haven’t heard a good reason not to do it, really, although there may be some out there. But I would do it. It’s a little money involved for the fee, but the test is pretty simple, the little civics test they give you, and if you speak English, you’re really not going to have any problem. My advice would be, go do it as soon as you can, so you’re not worried about it.
You’d mentioned family. Also, a nice benefit to becoming a citizen is that you can petition for your family members. Even if they’re over age 21, as long as they’re unmarried, you can … Or, actually, even if they’re married, once you become a citizen, you can petition for just about any family member, even siblings.
Yeah, that’s right, and only a citizen can petition a parent, so if you’re a green card holder, you can never bring your parents here. And only a citizen can do a K-1 visa; a green card holder cannot petition a fiancé. So there’s a couple other benefits, you know. And there are certain government jobs you can’t get unless you’re a citizen, so there’s really … Again, there’s a lot of good reasons to do it. I would do it if you have the means, and I would definitely just do it and get it behind you.
Disclaimer: The information herein is not intended as legal advice and is provided for general information only.Questions involving interpretation of specific U.S. laws should be addressed to an attorney and/or government officials.