Many lawful, permanent residents ask themselves this question at one point or another. The law does not require permanent residents to become citizens, or as it is properly called, file for naturalization. Many permanent residents are concerned that if they naturalize, they will lose citizenship or inheritance rights in another country. This concern is valid since not all countries allow dual citizenship. Before making a decision to naturalize, a permanent resident should seek advice from an expert that is familiar with the laws of your native country to properly weigh the risks and benefits of naturalization.
There are several substantial advantages to being a US citizen that are not available to permanent residents.
Full and complete protection under the United States Constitution – Citizens have full rights and protections under the United States Constitution. Permanent residents, on the other hand, are subject to the ever changing immigration laws that can affect their constitutional rights. A prime example of this is being subjected to laws that are applied retroactively.
A United States passport – US citizens can enter many countries without first obtaining a visa. Additionally, US Embassies around the world provide a full range of services and protections to citizens abroad.
Derivative citizenship for children – In some cases, naturalized citizens can automatically pass on citizenship to their natural and adopted children.
Voting – Citizens have the right to vote and as such, can meaningfully participate in the shaping of local, state and federal policy. Please be aware that voting as a permanent resident, with very few exceptions, is a federal crime.
Federal jobs – Citizens have the right to run for and hold an elected position in most government offices. Further, most federal jobs require citizenship.
Jury pools – Only citizens can serve on a jury.
Petition of family members – Citizens can file for more family members than residents and the process is faster.
Public benefits – Citizens are always eligible to apply. If they meet requirements, they will receive public benefits that include; TANF, SSI, Medicaid, and food stamps. Citizens also qualify for more academic scholarships and financial aid.
Full Social Security benefits – Citizens who retire abroad qualify to get all of their Social Security benefits without concern over reciprocity agreements. Permanent residents only get a portion of the benefits they have earned.
Estate tax benefits – Citizens are often subject to fewer restrictions on estate taxes.
No deportation – Citizens cannot be deported from the US. Permanent residents can be placed in deportation proceedings, and their status can be taken away in a variety of situations such as criminal convictions or extended periods outside the US.
The right to live and take long trips outside the United States – US citizens can leave the United States for as long as they want and still come back at any time. If a permanent resident stays outside of the US for too long, permanent resident status can be revoked and you will have to file for a new application for permanent residence. If you have reasons to be outside of the US for long periods of time (such as if you have a job where assignment overseas is possible), then you should consider applying for US citizenship to protect your right to re-enter the US.
Contact the Atlanta Immigration Law Attorneys at Antonini & Cohen Today
The Immigration Law attorneys at Antonini and Cohen have years of experience helping individuals and families obtain US citizenship. Our attorneys are ready to stand with you through every step of the process and answer any questions you have about becoming a US citizen. To schedule a consultation, please call us at 404.850.9394 or click here to complete a contact form.