16 February 2007
To Naturalize or not to Naturalize; that is the question.

Question of the Week: What are the benefits of obtaining United States Citizenship versus remaining a Lawful Permanent Resident, (Green-Card Holder)?

Apart from being able to vote, perhaps the most compelling reason to naturalize is that the Department of Homeland Security may not deport or prevent a U.S. Citizen from re-entering the United States after traveling abroad, for relatively minor criminal offenses, as it can for Green-Card holders. Such deportable offenses may be as simple as possession of marijuana, and certain combinations of relatively minor crimes of moral turpitude.

U.S. Citizens also have greater rights to petition for immediate family members for Green-Cards than Permanent Residents do, and the process is generally much faster. For example a U.S. Citizen over twenty one years of age can petition for his or her parents, while a Lawful Permanent Resident can not.

Additionally, U.S. Citizens do not generally have to live in the U.S. However, without having obtained special permission, Lawful Permanent Residents must return to the United States at least once a year, or their Green-Cards will be lost. This is even a risk even for those Lawful Permanent Residents who have stayed abroad for just six or more months.

Furthermore, if you become a U.S. Citizen you do not have to be concerned about replacing your Green Card with newer versions. For example, when the Immigration Service announced the expiration of the old Green-Cards, all individuals in possession of the “Old Green-Cards” had to apply for replacement secure, machine-readable Green Card. Citizens do not have to do this.

Also, only U.S. Citizens can obtain a U.S. Passport and it is easier to enter the U.S. and many other countries with a U.S. Passport.

Moreover, U.S. Citizens do not have to carry proof of Citizenship with them. On the other hand, the Immigration Service requires that Green-Card Holders always carry their Green Cards with them. In fact, the Immigration Service has detained Lawful Permanent Residents who forgot to carry their Green-Cards. Eighth,

Finally, if you are considering applying to become a United States Citizen, you should be aware that now may be the time to do so. This month, the USCIS has proposed an increase of filing fees of 66%, Presently, the House Judiciary Committee is considering that request. So, in the case of U.S. Citizenship, the present fee of $330.00 plus $70.00 for fingerprinting, will be increased to $675.00.

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