Article by Tiffany Keng. Tiffany is an associate attorney at the Law Office of Alison Yew.
As a U.S.-born U.S. citizen, I often take for granted my rights. It wasn’t until I became an immigration attorney in San Jose that I truly realized all the different advantages I enjoy, just by nature of my citizenship, as compared to my many clients.
There are actually numerous benefits to becoming a U.S. citizen. Naturally, the most widely discussed and known ones probably immediately come to mind, such as the right to vote or protection from deportation. But these certainly are not the only benefits of U.S. citizenship obtained through the naturalization process. In fact, there are numerous other benefits that are often overlooked or less emphasized. Have you considered these other advantages to becoming a U.S. citizen?
- Ability to petition more family members. A U.S. citizen may sponsor a wider variety of family members than green card holders, including parents, siblings, and married adult children. In the case of petitioning for a spouse, spouses of U.S. citizens have no visa quotas, while spouses of green card holders do, which results in shorter wait time for the U.S. citizen’s relative.
- It becomes easier to travel abroad. When you become a U.S. citizen, you can obtain a U.S. passport and travel freely around the world without having to worry about re-entry or the risk of losing your ability to return to the U.S. Permanent residents, on the other hand, can only leave the U.S. for 180 days before facing restrictions and complications of the risk of “abandoning” your green card.
- Traveling with a U.S. passport. As a U.S. citizen, you are able to obtain and travel with a U.S. passport. This in turn allows you to get assistance from the U.S. government when overseas and to seek help and protection from the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
- Ability of your green-card holding children to become U.S. citizens. When you become a U.S. citizen, your unmarried children under 18 automatically become U.S. citizens, as long as they are lawful permanent residents, and residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the naturalizing parent.
- Obtaining citizenship for children born abroad. In most cases, a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen is automatically a U.S citizen.
- You have more job opportunities. Many local, state, and federal government jobs require U.S. citizenship. A U.S. citizen, for instance, can serve as an officer in the U.S. military, while a non-U.S. citizen cannot.
- Access to more public benefits and retention of retirement income. U.S. citizens who retire abroad will receive all of their Social Security benefits. Depending on the circumstances, some Permanent Residents who live and retire abroad may not be able to collect their Social Security retirement payments that they earned paying into the system.
- Financial benefits. U.S. citizens tend to have more scholarship and financial aid options for college, as many academic scholarships and government grants are only for U.S. citizens and not available for permanent residents.
- Tax and estate benefits. U.S. citizens and permanent residents are not always treated the same for tax and estate purposes. As a U.S. citizen, there are certain estate tax complications you can avoid.
- Ability to vote. Not only can you vote for the president every four years, you can also vote in local, state and other federal elections to help shape your local laws and elect your local officials. This can have a direct impact on the community that you’re living in!
- Ability to run for public office. As a naturalized U.S. citizen, you are eligible to run for most elected public offices except for a few (e.g. U.S. president).
- Right to not be deported. Anyone who is not a U.S. citizen faces the possibility of deportation if they have committed certain crimes. However, a U.S. citizen cannot be deported.
Each year, the United States welcomes, on average, approximately 680,000 citizens during naturalization ceremonies across the U.S. Will you be one of them this year?
Contact our U.S. citizenship lawyers in San Jose today to discuss your eligibility to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.