The pathway from Green Card to United States citizenship is wrought with numerous emotions for most immigrants. For some, the journey took 15 years of waiting to get to the citizenship oath ceremony. For others, letting go of their birth country is painful and filled with tears. When clients call our offices and ask us why they should become citizens, we review beneficial reasons for applying (outlined in this article).
Ultimately the decision is the client’s to make, we do not influence their choice but educate them on the considerations. Obtaining citizenship has its benefits that include: voting, running for public office, ease of international travel, and protections not afforded under other immigration statuses.
1. Voting: One cannot make decisions about enacted policies without voting in federal and local elections, supporting people who represent their values. Voting is an essential aspect to contributing to a community.
2. Running for an Office: Running for public office is a civic duty in which our clients can partake, influencing policy that affects societal changes. A number of local and federal public offices require you to be a citizen to be eligible for candidacy.
a. Currently, U.S. citizens can travel to 166 countries either without acquiring a visa or readily acquiring one upon arrival (for a fee). Still, any of these visas will have restrictions that are important to learn about before you travel.
b. If permanent residents (green card holders) spend more than six months a year traveling (which many of our clients do mainly for family), they might not be admitted back into the U.S. and their green card may be considered “abandoned”. If this occurs, they will potentially have to start the immigration process all over again.
4. Sponsorship: Citizens have the right to sponsor immediate family members (spouses, fiancées, parents, children) for green cards. The sponsorship process is a lengthy one, so we ask our clients to plan accordingly.
5. Protection: Permanent residents are vulnerable to deportation just like undocumented immigrants, even for minor offenses. Taking a plea bargain, doing jail time, or community service is not always an option for our clients, and they are deported.
While becoming a citizen is an important part of living in this country, it is a decision that should not be taken lightly and raises a plethora of questions for our clients. Applying for citizenship has some caveats including studying for the citizenship exam, interviewing, and getting necessary medical waivers if needed. If you feel that your case may not be straightforward, it is best to consult an immigration attorney and ask, before filling out and sending in your paperwork.
The Law Offices of Pooja Sethi, PLLC takes pride in completing the citizenship process for you from your application, to studying with you for the exam, to driving you to San Antonio to your interview. If you have any questions, call Pooja Sethi at (646) 713- 8510.
Serving Clients all over the United States