6 Benefits of Becoming a U.S. Citizen!
Updated: Apr 3
By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.
If you’re a green card holder in the United States, considering whether and when you should naturalize in the United States can sometimes seem like a matter that’s not THAT urgent.
As with any process as important as an immigration case, you want to make sure you take the time and seek professional counsel to avoid making mistakes, but as a general rule of thumb, most green card holders are served by progressing to naturalization as soon as they are eligible.
That’s why at the Law Office of Parviz Malakouti, we recommend that most (but not all) of our clients apply for U.S. citizenship as soon as they’re eligible.
It’s simply because you want to claim the benefits of U.S. citizenship as soon as possible, especially benefits that could be lost forever due to failing to naturalize.
Let’s discuss these benefits below.
Benefit #1 - Protection from Deportation
Nobody ever wants to be kicked out of their home.
So if you’re a U.S. green card holder, you may want to secure your place in your home as soon as possible.
Becoming a U.S. citizen protects you from ever becoming removed (i.e. deported) from the United States (besides the narrow exception of having committed fraud in your citizenship application).
A common misconception is that becoming a green card holder protects you from being deported. That’s not true! There are a number of immigration, and criminal violations that can result in even a green card holder becoming deported from the United States.
This protection against deportation actually comes when you naturalize, becoming a U.S. citizen.
Benefit #2 - U.S. Passport & Visa Free Travel
In a world with boundaries and borders, being able to go wherever you want is the ultimate freedom.
There is no passport on earth that allows you to travel to every country visa free, but the U.S. passport gets pretty close. With visa-free (or visa-on-arrival) travel to 185+ countries, the U.S. passport allows you to travel to:
The European schengen zone including France, Spain, Germany, Italy, and 22 other european countries;
The United Kingdom including England, Scotland, Whales, Northern Ireland;
Breathtaking Caribbean vacation destinations such as St. Lucia, The British Virgin Islands, Antigua, the Cayman Islands;
South American countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Panamá, Peru & Chile;
Historical Middle-eastern destinations in Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates.
Despite corona pandemic travel restrictions of the last two years, the U.S. passport remains a formidable travel document. For most immigrants, it’s a huge upgrade, especially for naturalizing citizens from countries with relatively weak passports such as the Philippines, India, Iran, and Pakistan and most of Africa.
The only way to get one of these is to become a U.S. citizen.
Benefit #3 - Ability to Bring Family Members
Home is where the heart is and for most people, their heart is where loved ones are.
When you become a U.S. citizen, you gain the ability to petition for your parents, siblings and married children to come to the United States. You also get the ability to petition for a foreign fiancé using the K-1 fiancé visa (shout out to 90 Day fiancé!).
Also, if you have a parent, spouse or child that has previous immigration violations or a criminal record, they may qualify for a waiver after you become a U.S. citizen.
For reasons that are beyond the scope of this article, this can be critical.
In some circumstances, failing to naturalize in a timely manner could actually cause a family member to permanently lose eligibility for a green card or a necessary waiver of inadmissibility to obtain a green card.
Benefit #4 - Freedom to Travel Internationally Indefinitely
Immigrating to the United States shouldn’t mean admitting yourself to a 50 state prison.
One of the biggest restrictions on the freedom of green card holders is that in order to keep their green card, they have to maintain “continuous residence” in the United States. This means they can run the risk of losing their green card if they spend more than 6 months at a time outside of the United States.
Becoming a U.S. citizen makes this problem disappear. A U.S. citizen can spend six months or six years or however long they want outside of the United States without risking their status.
So if you’ve been planning to live and work in Istanbul or or Athens for a year or sail around the world for 9 months (like one of our recent clients is doing), you can do it once you become a U.S. citizen.
Benefit #5 - Birthright Citizenship for Future Children
We all want the best for our children and immigrants to the United States are no different. This means giving them as much opportunity as possible.
Although green card holders who have children abroad can petition to get those children a green card, the process can be both expensive. It can also possibly result in a separation if the child is outside of the United States. Additionally, the child may have to wait longer and jump through additional hoops to become a U.S. citizen.
Once you become a U.S. citizen, future children born abroad have the opportunity to immediately acquire U.S. citizenship, assuming you’ve been in the United States for enough time and (if you’re the father) have acknowledged paternity of the child.
The bottom line is, being a citizen gives your foreign-born child a direct path to immediate U.S. citizenship in more situations than if you were just a green card holder.
Benefit #6 Become Eligible for Some U.S. Government Jobs
In 1976, President Gerald Ford issued Executive Order 11935 which restricted competitive federal government jobs to only U.S. citizens (with very rare, limited exceptions).
This means if you want to work for old Uncle Sam in a civilian position, you’ve probably got to naturalize in the United States.
Also, if you’re considering a career in politics at the federal level, you’ll likely have to take the U.S. citizenship oath. A requirement of becoming both a U.S. senator and member of the house of representatives is to be a citizen of the United States of America.
Get Professional Help Naturalizing
If you’re a green card holder thinking about becoming a U.S. citizen, it can pay to have a consultation with a professional that has years of experience with the U.S. immigration system. In a consultation, at the Law Office of Parviz Malakouti, we can screen your case for potential problems, including the most important ones - those you may not be aware of.
During the consultation, you can have your questions answered about the process, and find out how much it would cost to have the case handled for you by our firm, putting your mind at ease.
When you’re ready, book a consultation right away.
The Law Office of Parviz Malakouti does not guarantee the accuracy of information presented nor assume responsibility for actions taken in reliance of this information. The information in this page could become outdated. Each immigration case is particular and you should consult with a qualified, licensed immigration lawyer about your case before taking any steps.