For some, applying to naturalize as a U.S. citizen is simply not a priority. True, having a green card gives you the flexibility and stability to work and travel freely. However, there is always the possibility of losing your green card and being deported. Applying to become a U.S. citizen truly allows you to complete your immigration journey and become fully secure and integrated into the fabric of the United States. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t wait any longer to achieve this important goal!
- You don’t have to remember to renew your green card, and as a consequence, your driver’s license.
As a permanent resident, you know that every ten years you must remember to shell out around $500 and apply to renew your permanent residence on form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. These days, getting your new green card in the mail can take over a year. In the meantime, you will receive a receipt that extends your permanent residence, but this can cause problems with DMV offices that don’t recognize this to renew your driver’s license, which is often tied to the expiration date on your green card.
- You can no longer be deported.
I have met many people who have felt a false sense of security and thought to themselves, once they have their green card, they have made it. Unfortunately, many of those people find themselves in an extremely stressful situation if they are arrested and are then facing deportation proceedings after decades of living in the U.S. Because naturalizing as a U.S. citizen means you are no longer a foreign citizen in the eyes of immigration law, with a very small exception for becoming a U.S. citizen under fraudulent circumstances, your U.S. citizenship cannot be taken away. As a consequence, you can’t be deported as a U.S. citizen.
- You can vote in federal elections and serve on federal juries.
One of the things that makes the United States of America exceptional is our democracy. While some people in certain states can vote in state or local elections, only U.S. citizens can vote for a U.S. president. The ability to vote has been so important that movements have fought long and hard to permit women the right to vote in 1920 and persons of all color and races the guaranteed right to vote in 1965. The ability to vote is precious and the ability to caste a vote at the ballot box is a source of pride.
- You can travel to almost anywhere in the world with a U.S. passport.
Traveling the world has become a top priority for many people, especially after a time where travel was restricted for so long. Holding a valid U.S. passport, which you can apply for immediately after receiving your naturalization certificate, opens the doors to numerous countries that don’t require a visa for U.S. citizens. A few examples include: Bahamas, South Korea, Colombia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Jamaica, Italy, Canada, South Africa, and Spain.
- You can apply for your close relatives to get a green card.
As a U.S. citizen, immigration law allows you to petition for your spouse, children under the age of 21 and your parents as “immediate relatives.” This means that you have the shortest route to apply for your relatives’ green cards. In addition to these relatives, a U.S. citizen is the only type of petitioner who can apply for a sibling to get their green card.
Naturalizing to become a U.S. citizenship is the best way to honor your immigrant story. It allows you to achieve stability, while honoring the sacrifices and hard work you and your family made to get here. If you had been debating whether to do it, don’t wait any longer!