As a green card holder who has or is planning to fulfill the Naturalization requirements, you're probably weighing the benefits of US citizenship and the responsibilities that come with it.

The good news is that US citizenship comes with many incredible perks. If you're hoping to enjoy all those privileges, then obtaining citizenship is the way to go.

Top Benefits of Becoming a US Citizen

There are several benefits to US citizenship, the most obvious being that it provides full legal rights and protections under the law. As a green card holder, there are many things that you're unable to do, such as vote in elections and travel freely across borders or work for the federal government. By obtaining citizenship, these restrictions become a thing of the past, empowering you to participate fully in all aspects of society.

In addition to legal benefits, US citizenship also confers several tangible advantages. As a citizen, you can access all levels of public education without cost. You'll also have access to many government-funded resources, such as financial aid programs and healthcare services. Additionally, US citizens enjoy easy access to employment opportunities that may not be available to non-citizens due to restrictions on sponsorship or security clearance requirements required by some employers or agencies.

These benefits make US citizenship an attractive option for green card holders looking to fully realize their potential and contribute more to society.

Here is a closer look at the benefits of US citizenship.

The Right to Vote in Elections

One of the greatest benefits of being a US citizen is having the right to vote in elections and actively participate in shaping the government. In doing so, you have a say in who represents you and your interests and contribute to decisions affecting millions of people across the country. Whether voting on important issues like healthcare or immigration policy or casting your ballot for local officials and politicians, being a citizen gives you an important voice in shaping the future of our society.

Access to Social Services and Government Benefits

One of the most valuable advantages of US citizenship is access to the US's social security system and federal benefits. For example, citizens are entitled to medical care under Medicare and unemployment assistance if they lose their job. They can also access help for families with young children, social security benefits, SSI benefits, and protections for workers in terms of safety regulations, minimum wage requirements, and overtime eligibility.

The Social Security Administration offers these benefits to green card holders through their permanent resident status. The benefit of university fees also falls into this category. But green card holders don't get the same full access to social security benefits as US citizens.

No Deportation to your Country of Former Citizenship or Nationality

While deportation is commonly associated with undocumented immigrants, it can also happen to lawful permanent residents or green card holders. Like undocumented immigrants, green card holders can be deported if they commit certain crimes or fail to demonstrate their eligibility for permanent residency. However, citizenship can protect them from deportation and is an important tool for legal residents who wish to avoid being forcibly removed from the country.

While it is always best to follow all laws and regulations when living in the US, as a citizen, one is much less likely to face the threat of forced removal. Ultimately, extended US residence periods are not enough to guarantee protection from deportation - lawful permanent residents must always remain mindful of compliance with immigration laws and regulations.

Less Expensive in the Long Run – the Cost of Naturalization

Compared to the cost of filing for green card renewal, naturalization is quite affordable. The Department of Homeland Security charges a green card renewal fee of $540. These costs can add up fast, especially for conditional permanent resident status that needs renewal every two years. On the other hand, the filing fee for naturalization is $725, and that's a one-time fee. Once you are naturalized, there is no need for you to renew your status or pay any additional fees.

You can Bring your Family to the United States

If you have family members in your country of former citizenship, this is perhaps the greatest benefit that US citizenship can offer. As a citizen, you can sponsor your spouse and children (including those who are married) to come live with you in the United States through what is known as family-based immigration. You can also sponsor other relatives like parents, brothers, and sisters, although there are annual limits on the number.

However, as a green card holder, you can only petition for your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21. And, even then, you will likely have to wait years for your family members to be granted legal status. In contrast, US citizens can typically bring their spouses and minor children to the US much sooner.

You Earn the Right to Hold a United States Passport

A US passport is one of the most powerful travel documents in the world and can be used to travel to over 180 countries without a Visa. As a United States citizen, you have the right to apply for a passport and enjoy all the benefits that come with it, including easier international travel and access to consular and embassy assistance while abroad. Green card holders may not get the same priority as citizens from the embassy or consulates when travelling overseas. Moreover, you can use your US passport to re-enter the country without restrictions.

Obtain Citizenship for Children Born Abroad

When you become a citizen of the United States, your children will also be citizens. This means they will have all the same rights and benefits as any other citizen, even if they were born in another country. If you have a child abroad, you'll only need to report the birth to a US consulate or embassy.

You Can Become an Elected Official

You need US citizenship to run for public office at the state and local levels. This means that if you want to run for public office in a federal election, you must be a citizen. This includes the presidency, the US Congress, and state legislatures. There are a few exceptions for certain local offices, but citizenship is required for most elected positions in the United States.

You Will Enjoy More Convenient Reentry Into the US

If you are a United States citizen, you can generally re-enter the United States more quickly and easily than a non-citizen. You won't need to queue up in customs when traveling from other countries. All you need to do is present your US passport at the port of entry, and you will be allowed to enter.

You also earn the right to travel outside the US for long periods without losing your status as a citizen. You can travel for business, education, or pleasure and not have to worry about the possibility of being denied reentry to the United States.

You No Longer Have to Deal with the US Department of Homeland Security

Most immigrants would agree that dealing with the DHS is frightening and overwhelming. One of the benefits of US citizenship is that you no longer need to deal with any government agencies like the DHS, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This means less worry about being deportable or losing your legal status in the United States. Once you're a citizen, you can live and work in the United States without fear of being deported.

Steps to Become an American Citizen

Now that you know some of the benefits of being an American citizen, you may be wondering how you can become one. The process is quite simple, and there are only a few requirements that you need to meet.

  • Be at least 18 years of age at the time you file the application
  • Be a lawful permanent resident of the United States for at least five years (or three years if you're married to a US citizen).
  • Have continuous residence and physical presence in the United States.
  • Demonstrate good moral character.
  • Have basic knowledge of American history and government.
  • Demonstrate loyalty to the principles of the US Constitution.
  • Be able to read, write, and speak basic English.
  • Pass the citizenship test.
  • Be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance.

The Oath of Allegiance includes several promises you make when you become a US citizen, including commitments to:

  • Swear allegiance to the United States
  • Give up all prior allegiance to any other sovereignty or nation
  • Serve the country when required
  • Support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the US

Be a Permanent Resident of the United States

The first step is to be a permanent resident of the United States. To become a permanent resident, you must have a green card. You can obtain a green card through various means, including employment, family sponsorship, or refugee/asylum status. 

Prepare and Submit N-400, Application for Naturalization

The next step is to begin the naturalization process by completing the necessary paperwork. The form you will need to fill out is called the N-400, Application for Naturalization. You can fill out the form online on the USCIS website or request a paper form from your local USCIS office.

If it's online, create or log into your USCIS online account and if it's by paper, read the instructions for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization and complete the form.

Go to your Biometrics Appointment; if Applicable

If your biometrics are needed, you'll receive an appointment notice from the USCIS that includes your biometrics appointment date, time, and location. Be there on time and have your biometrics taken.

Complete the Interview

You will be scheduled for an interview with a USCIS officer at your local USCIS office. The interview is generally the last step in the naturalization process. You will be asked questions about your application and background at the interview. You will also be given a test on your English language skills and knowledge of US civics. The USCIS officer will also review your fingerprints, photos, and other required documents to verify your identity. 

Receive a Decision on Your Application

After the interview, the USCIS officer will review your application and make a decision. If additional information is needed, you may be asked to submit additional documentation or return for another interview. If your application is approved, you will be scheduled for a ceremony to take the Oath of Allegiance.

Talk to a Lawyer

Becoming a citizen of the United States is both a privilege and a responsibility. To apply for citizenship, you must undergo a rigorous process that involves filling out multiple forms, providing documentation to support your claims, and undergoing an in-person interview with government officials. For many people, this process is quite daunting and complex, so it's important to have the help of an experienced attorney who can ensure that all of your paperwork is completed correctly.

A lawyer can help by reviewing your application to ensure everything is in order before submitting it to the government. Additionally, they will be able to provide guidance on which supporting documents you need to offer and what kind of evidence you should gather during your in-person interview.

Having an experienced legal professional on your side can significantly reduce the stress and anxiety associated with becoming a citizen, ultimately helping you feel more confident throughout the process. It can also provide peace of mind and enhance your chances of being approved for citizenship. If you're considering applying for United States citizenship, our experienced immigration lawyers at UpCounsel can help. Contact us today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a naturalized citizen and a natural-born citizen?

A natural-born citizen is someone who was born in the United States or one of its territories, while a naturalized citizen is someone who was not born in the US but has gone through the process of becoming a citizen.

What are the unexpected benefits of being a US citizen, compared to a Green Card holder, other than the right to vote?

There are a number of benefits that come with being a US citizen, such as the ability to live and work in the US without fear of deportation, access to government benefits, and the ability to sponsor family members for green cards.

Is citizenship worth it?

Citizenship is a valuable asset that comes with a number of privileges and responsibilities. It can open up new opportunities, both professionally and personally, and provide stability for you and your family.

What are the benefits of US citizenship for someone living elsewhere?

One of the many benefits of obtaining US citizenship is that it's a stable status. So, irrespective of where you choose to live, you'll still enjoy the benefits discussed above. But there are nuances and exceptions to be aware of, like the US immigration authorities revoking your naturalized citizenship, or you are doing something that falls under the US's loss of nationality statute.