5) USCIS will review and revisit your entire immigration history and past immigration applications before approving your naturalization application. Immigrants usually hire qualified attorneys for their asylum process or adjustment of status to obtain their green-cards. However, when it gets to applying for citizenship, some applicants believe that naturalization requires only the completion of forms and preparation for the citizenship test. Unfortunately, that is not so. When reviewing your citizenship application, USCIS has the last practical chance to revisit all your prior immigration history. It’s the last chance to review your background and identify any issues, problems, mistakes, inconsistences or even fraud. It often happens that at the time of reviewing the citizenship application (form N-400), or during the citizenship interview, a USCIS officer will spot errors or discrepancies in the previous immigration applications. These might require adjustment of status (I-485), asylum application, or even consular visa application. Sometimes, the officers ask questions about the applicant’s asylum application during the citizenship interview even though many years have passed. When USCIS finds a discrepancy or error, it may deny the naturalization application, revoke your permanent resident status (green card), terminate your asylum or even place you in removal proceedings.
6) Only citizens can vote or register to vote. Citizens are eligible to vote, while green-card holders (LPRs) are not. Therefore, citizens are the only people who can have an impact on laws and regulations. As a United States citizen and voter, you can shape immigrant-friendly policies.
Do not register to vote if you are not yet a citizen. You become a citizen after you have attended your naturalization ceremony, taken the oath and received your naturalization certificate. This is important. Even inadvertent registration for voting can make you ineligible for citizenship or even removable.
Green card holders have fewer rights and privileges.
7) Citizens can travel freely. As a green-card holder, there may be restrictions on your travel. If you stay outside the United States for more than 6 months you may risk losing your permanent resident status. Every time you re-enter the United States as a green-card holder, you are questioned. You may be interrogated, subjected to a criminal background check, and denied entry to the United States.
By contrast, as a United States citizen, you can travel freely. You can stay abroad for as long as you like. Unlike green-card holders, citizens are not questioned about their residence intent when they return to the United States after a trip abroad.
8) Citizens are treated differently by the courts. There is an important difference in the way the legal system treats green-card holders (LPRs) and citizens. As a green-card holder, you can be deported if you are convicted of certain crimes. As a citizen, you cannot be deported.
Citizens have significant advantages
9) Citizens can sponsor their children and spouses much faster, and can also sponsor their parents, married sons and daughters, and siblings. As a US citizen, you can petition for immigration of your children (under 21), spouse and parents. There is no waiting time (priority date) for visa numbers when you petition for your parents, children and spouse. While permanent residents can also sponsor their children and spouses, there is usually at least a two-year waiting time for availability of visa numbers. Unlike green-card holders, US citizens can also sponsor their siblings and adult children even if they are over 21 and married. Your grandchildren can be derivative beneficiaries when you petition for your children.
10) Citizens make greater contributions to the country. Citizens not only have the ability to vote, but also tend to be more involved in their communities. Citizens are also eligible for social benefits, housing assistance, certain loans and other important resources.
Some of these remarks were made during the national tele-briefing “How Citizenship Changed My Life,” organized by New America Media. Participants shared advice and practical tips for those considering applying for citizenship of the United States. The event also featured testimonies from new Americans who have gone through the naturalization process in the past year. They described how their lives have changed since they became citizens.
Attorneys at I.S. Law Firm have helped many permanent residents to naturalize and become US citizens. If you are interested in applying for citizenship, please contact us at +1-703-527-1779 or via e-mail: [email protected].