Becoming a U.S. Citizen Has Important Benefits!
As we have been advising, on October 2, the fee to apply for citizenship, is increasing from $640.00 to $1160-1170.00. If you or loved ones qualify for citizenship and have been putting off applying for some reason, perhaps now is the time to go for it.
What are the benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen, as opposed to remaining with a green card? Let’s look at some....
- As a U.S. citizen, you can vote in all the elections, local, state and national. You can even run for office! At this time, for example the United States Congress has 10 representatives and one senator who are naturalized citizens.
- As a U.S. citizen, you will never be at risk for deportation – whereas as a green card holder, you are at risk it if you stay out of the country for prolonged amounts of time, are accused of any kind of criminal activity as well as drug abuse, and even if you change your permanent residence address without advising USCIS.
- As a U.S. citizen, you can petition your immediate relatives (spouses, parents and children under 21) without the need for them to “wait in line.” (Green card holders can petition in some categories, but these are subject to annual quotas which may cause delays.)
- As a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible for certain scholarships and grants as well as other benefits.
So if you qualify, why put if off any longer? Be aware that the process can take from six months to a year. These are the requirements:
- To petition on your own, you must be at least 18.
- You must have been a permanent legal resident for at least five years —spouses of U.S. citizens: three years.
- An applicant must display “good moral” character during the five years. Drug abuse can affect this standing.
- No aggravated felonies in your history. Also, certain criminal convictions in the last five years in most circumstances will bar acceptance.
- Applicants must be able to read, write, speak, and understand English words in ordinary use. (Some exceptions exist.)
- You will need to pass a test with questions about fundamentals of U.S. history and certain government principles. (There are many “test preparation” programs to help with this). There will also be an interview with an immigration officer.
- You must be willing to oath allegiance to the United States.
Also, even though you are required to take an oath of allegiance to the United States, if your birth country allows dual citizenship, you can keep both.