Is US Citizenship Right for You?

If you have a green card and have met the requirements for naturalization or will in the near future, you may be wondering if obtaining U.S. citizenship is the right decision for you. If you intend to live permanently in the United States, the short and simple answer is yes.

However, for some people, the answer is a little more complicated — often for identity or practical reasons.

To help you decide whether naturalization is the next step in your immigration journey, we'll discuss the benefits of becoming a naturalized American, as well as the rules that prevent some green card holders from obtaining citizenship.

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What Are the Advantages of Being a US Citizen?

For most green card holders, becoming a U.S. citizen is the next logical step, especially if they intend to stay in the country for an extended period of time. Citizenship in the United States confers numerous benefits not available to green card holders.

A citizens right in the US state after naturalization:

You may not be deported to your former country of citizenship or nationality.

You will have the same right to live and work in the United States as any other American. Even if you are later charged with a crime, you will be able to remain in the United States. (Although recent news reports indicate that the US government intends to pursue more "denaturalizations" based on prior criminal offenses, the vast majority of naturalized US citizens should be unaffected.)

You can travel with one of the world's most powerful passports:

The ability to apply for a U.S. passport after receiving your Certificate of Naturalization is a significant benefit of U.S. citizenship. With a U.S. passport, you can travel to more than 180 countries without a visa for short-term trips, take as many trips abroad as you want for as long as you want, and seek assistance from the local U.S. embassy in times of trouble.

You can obtain federal benefits that are only available to U.S. citizens:

Naturalization grants you full access to certain government benefit programs, such as federal college assistance, which is only available to U.S. citizens.

You can apply for a green card for your relatives in the following ways:

You will be able to sponsor your parents, adult children, and siblings for green cards as well.

You can apply for jobs with the United States government here:

The majority of federal jobs are only available to citizens of the United States. Although every job has advantages and disadvantages, federal employees and their families typically receive better benefits and pay than private-sector workers.

You can vote in any election in the United States:

Only citizens of the United States are eligible to vote in federal elections. Non-citizens are only allowed to vote in local elections. If you want to have an impact on leadership in your community or the United States as a whole, the voting booth is the place to start.

You can run for elected office in the following ways:

Citizenship in the United States is required for federal office, as well as most positions in state and local government.

About This Author

Philip Diack is Founder and Managing Director of Passports and, a national passport and travel visa service with offices in Atlanta, Miami, Washington, DC, NYC, Denver and San Francisco.

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