A significant legal question posed by many lawful permanent residents is whether to become a naturalized United States citizen. This important decision is influenced by many factors, and the pros and cons should be carefully weighed. In today's blog post, we will consider some of the issues involved in this decision.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF NATURALIZATION?
One of the primary concerns expressed by individuals is that, by becoming a U.S. citizen, they lose their sense of national and cultural identity. Obviously, this is simply an emotional response rather than a legal reality. Nonetheless, some individuals experience a sense of loss and feel disconnected from their national heritage.
Individuals from some countries lose legal benefits from their home country if they become a U.S. citizen. Examples include the loss of medical benefits and retirement benefits, and the ability to return to live in the home country. Individuals should always consult with a lawyer from their home country to determine what legal benefits might be lost.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF NATURALIZATION?
While the benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen are numerous, some of the most important benefits are as follows:
1. Avoiding deportation. Except in extremely unusual circumstances, once a person becomes a U.S. citizen, he/she cannot be ordered removed from the United States. Even a lawful permanent resident can be ordered removed, for a variety of reasons such as the commission of a crime.
2. Ability to live outside the United States. If a lawful permanent resident remains outside the U.S. for a continuous period of more than 6 months, he/she abandons permanent resident status and cannot return to the U.S. without being eligible for, applying for and receiving a new visa. A U.S. citizen can choose to live outside the U.S. for a long period of time and will always be able to return to the United States.
3. Right to vote. Only a U.S. citizen has the right to vote in federal, state and local elections.
4. Ability to petition for certain family members. While lawful permanent residents can petition for certain family members, a U.S. citizen can petition for a broader range of family members, and can often do so on a much faster track - without the significant waiting times associated with preference categories. Lawful permanent residents that have immediate family members abroad who wish to immigrate to the U.S. are best advised to naturalize as soon as they are eligible.
If you're considering naturalization, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons before making the decision. Individuals need quality legal representation to guide in this important decision. Christiansen Law Firm partners with lawful permanent residents to guide them in the decision to naturalize. The immigration lawyers at Christiansen Law Firm have significant experience in naturalization matters, and can advise you about your rights. Contact Christiansen Law Firm in Houston or San Antonio to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights.