Green card holders in this country receive most of the rights of U.S. citizens and in the day-to-day life of permanent residents there are not many differences from their U.S. citizen counterparts.
For example, green card holders can live in the U.S. as long as they like and then can work for almost every kind of employer.
So why should you become a citizen?
10 Reasons to Become a United States’ Citizen
1. Patriotism and Voting – If you are making the U.S. your permanent home and want to fully participate in American democracy, becoming a citizen is vital. Only U.S. citizens in this country can vote. And voting is the most basic way to have a voice in the way the country is run.
2. Retaining residency – The only way to guarantee you will forever have the right to remain in the U.S. is to naturalize. Permanent residents are always at risk of losing their green cards if they spend long periods of time outside the U.S. Since 9/11, this has become a more serious problem as more and more people are losing their residency status because they are deemed by port of entry officers as having abandoned their permanent residency in the U.S.
3. Protection Against Deportation - If one is ever convicted of a crime – and not necessarily a very serious crime – there is a risk of being deported. Once you become a U.S. citizen, with the rarest exceptions, you retain your citizenship even if you run into criminal problems.
4. Eligibility for Government benefits – Some permanent residents are restricted from access to the same public benefits as citizens. In recent years, there has been more and more talk of making additional kinds of public benefits only available to citizens. The only way to ensure that this will not ever be a problem is to naturalize.
5. Priority Immigration for family members – U.S. citizens receive priority treatment when it comes to bringing in family members. Citizens over 21 years of age can sponsor family members without waiting on a queue for a visa to become available. The same is true for spouses of U.S. citizens and minor children of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens can also sponsor unmarried and married adult children and siblings, though the waits in these categories can be several years. Green card holders, on the other hand, cannot sponsor parents, siblings, or married adult children. Furthermore, the wait to bring in children and spouses are much longer than for citizens.
6. Eligibility for Certain Federal jobs – Certain types of jobs with government agencies require U.S. citizenship. This is particularly true for jobs in the energy and defense sectors.
7. Eligibility for Political Office - Many types of elected positions in this country require the office holder to be a U.S. citizen.
8. Favorable Tax Treatment - U.S. citizens and permanent residents are not always treated the same for tax purposes. This is particularly true for estate taxes.
9. Eligibility for Federal grants – While many federal grants are available to permanent residents, more and more are only available to U.S. citizen applicants.
10. Political contributions – While green card holders can legally donate money to campaigns if they are residing in the U.S., it is not clear that green card holders residing abroad – even temporarily – can do so. This point was the subject of a political scandal involving donations by wealthy Indonesians to the Clinton presidential campaign.
To apply for citizenship, you must file a naturalization application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.