Why Should You Apply For US Citizenship If You Already Have A Green Card?

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In this interview, Yakov Spektor shares the advantages of having a U.S. Citizenship vs. having a Green Card. Please watch the video below to know more.

Navigating through the process of immigration in the United States can be a complex journey. Many wonder why one should apply for U.S. citizenship when they already possess a Green Card. This blog post aims to shed light on this subject, discussing the differences between the two, the benefits of obtaining U.S. citizenship and debunking common misconceptions.

Understanding Green Card and U.S. Citizenship

Green Card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued by the U.S. government granting immigrants the legal right to live and work in the United States permanently. As a Green Card holder, you enjoy most of the rights of U.S. citizens, with a few exceptions, such as the right to vote in federal elections or run for elected office.

On the other end of the spectrum is U.S. Citizenship, a status that comes with the full benefits and responsibilities that constitute part of being a full-fledged member of the American society. U.S. citizenship is often the end goal of many immigrants.

As a U.S. citizen, you are entitled to a U.S. passport, the right to vote in federal elections, and the ability to hold public office. You can also fully participate in civic life, are protected from deportation, and sponsor a broader range of relatives for immigration. Unlike a Green Card, U.S. citizenship is permanent and does not require renewal.

Differences between a Green Card and U.S. Citizenship

While both Green Card holders and U.S. citizens enjoy similar rights, such as the freedom to work and live in the United States, there are notable differences between the two.

  • Permanency: Green Card holders are granted permanent residence, but the card must be renewed every ten years. U.S. citizenship, once acquired, is a lifelong status and does not require any renewal.
  • Voting Rights: One of the key differences lies in the ability to participate in federal elections. Green Card holders cannot vote in federal elections, whereas U.S. citizens can exercise their right to vote and run for public office.
  • International Travel: Although both Green Card holders and U.S. citizens can travel internationally, Green Card holders may lose their status if they stay outside the U.S. for too long or move to another country. On the other hand, U.S. citizens can travel abroad freely without these concerns.
  • Sponsoring Relatives: Green Card holders and U.S. citizens can sponsor relatives to come to the United States, but U.S. citizens can sponsor a broader range of family members.
  • Government Jobs and Benefits: Certain government jobs are only open to U.S. citizens, and some government benefits are available only to U.S. citizens.

Knowing these differences can help you decide whether to apply for U.S. citizenship if you already have a Green Card.

Benefits of Obtaining U.S. Citizenship Over Green Card

U.S. citizenship undoubtedly brings a host of benefits that go beyond those offered to Green Card holders.

  • Protection against Deportation: As a U.S. citizen, you are granted protection against deportation. You can only be removed from the United States if you fraudulently obtain citizenship. On the other hand, Green Card holders can lose their status due to certain criminal convictions or by spending extended periods outside the U.S.
  • Right to Vote: U.S. citizens have the right to vote in federal elections, a significant benefit that allows them to have a say in the country’s leadership and policies.
  • Bringing family members to the U.S.: While Green Card holders can sponsor immediate family members for immigration to the U.S., U.S. citizens can sponsor a broader range of family members, including siblings and parents.
  • Eligibility for Federal Jobs: Certain jobs with government agencies require U.S. citizenship. Thus, becoming a U.S. citizen opens more employment opportunities.
  • Travel Benefits: As a U.S. citizen, you can travel abroad for unlimited periods without risking losing your status. U.S. passport holders also benefit from visa-free travel to many countries.

These enhanced benefits make the naturalization process worthwhile for many Green Card holders.

Debunking Common Misconceptions

When it comes to the topic of immigration status – Green Card holders and U.S. citizens alike – misconceptions abound. One of the most persistent misconceptions is about taxation.

Many believe that Green Card holders can avoid U.S. tax responsibilities. This is a false assumption. The truth is that both Green Card holders and U.S. citizens are subject to U.S. tax laws and should declare their worldwide income to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Another misconception is that Green Card holders only pay taxes for their income in the U.S. In reality, Green Card holders must report their total income from all sources, both within the U.S. and abroad.

Addressing these misconceptions is crucial to ensuring you remain in good standing with U.S. tax laws and maintain your immigration status. Always seek the guidance of a tax professional or an immigration expert to understand your responsibilities better. Remember, misinformation can lead to unforeseen complications.

Responsibilities of a U.S. Citizen

Becoming a U.S. citizen is not just about the privileges it entails; it also brings along certain responsibilities you are expected to uphold. Here are some of those duties:

  1. Jury Duty: As a U.S. citizen, you may be called upon to serve on a jury. This is a key aspect of the U.S. judicial system, where citizens participate directly in the administration of justice.
  2. Selective Service: Male U.S. citizens aged between 18 and 25 must register with the Selective Service System, a government agency that maintains a database of potential military conscripts.
  3. Taxes: U.S. citizens, like Green Card holders, must file income tax returns annually. This includes reporting all income earned domestically and abroad.
  4. Civic Participation: Although not mandatory, U.S. citizens are encouraged to participate in the democratic process, which includes voting in federal, state, and local elections and potentially running for office.

Upholding these duties is part of the social contract of being a U.S. citizen and contributes to the nation’s functioning. While they may seem daunting initially, they represent a citizen’s commitment to their community and the country.

Process of Applying for U.S. Citizenship

The transition from being a Green Card holder to becoming a U.S. citizen involves a process known as naturalization. Here is a simplified overview of the process:

  1. Eligibility Check: Make sure you meet all the eligibility requirements. This typically involves being at least 18 years old, having had a Green Card for at least five years (or three years if married to a U.S. citizen), and having maintained continuous residence in the U.S.
  2. Application: File Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form includes your background, character, and willingness to take an oath of allegiance to the U.S.
  3. Biometrics Appointment: After processing your application, you’ll be scheduled for a biometrics appointment where your fingerprints will be taken for a background check.
  4. Interview and Test: You will then be scheduled for an interview, during which you’ll be tested on your English skills and knowledge of U.S. civics.
  5. Oath of Allegiance: If your application is approved, the last step is to take the oath of allegiance to the United States in a naturalization ceremony.

The process can be time-consuming and requires a lot of paperwork, but the benefits of U.S. citizenship make it a worthwhile endeavor for many green card holders.

Embracing U.S. Citizenship

Becoming a U.S. citizen is about more than just fulfilling responsibilities and enjoying expanded privileges. It’s about fully embracing the American way of life and becoming an integral part of this diverse and dynamic society.

In this journey from holding a Green Card to being a U.S. citizen, we’ve explored the benefits, debunked common misconceptions, and outlined the responsibilities of U.S. citizenship. We’ve also covered the process of naturalization, demystifying what can seem like a daunting process.

Ultimately, applying for U.S. citizenship is a profoundly personal decision that brings you closer to the opportunities, protections, and sense of belonging that come with being a U.S. citizen. As you ponder this decision, remember the benefits that await and the sense of accomplishment that comes with calling yourself an American citizen.

We have many years of experience in immigration and helping clients process their applications. 

Call us at 646-859-0205 or send us a message us today. You’ll be glad you called. You’ll know what to do.