Immigration is a process that can take many years and often involves several distinct steps. People often begin their journey when they apply for a visa, and they may continue upgrading and changing their status until they finally become a citizen of the United States of America.
After someone has lawfully entered the country and has remained in the country for some time, they may want to make their arrangements more permanent. They can potentially adjust their status to become permanent residents. Permanent residents have green cards that allow them to stay in the country more or less indefinitely.
Some people will take the next step and become citizens. Although many people dream of becoming United States citizens, quite a few people find the naturalization process intimidating. Others simply don’t understand the benefits of becoming a citizen. What differences separate permanent residents from citizens?
The need for ongoing paperwork
Although permanent residents can potentially stay in the United States for the rest of their lives, they have to continually reapply to do so. Every 10 years for the rest of their lives, they will need to submit paperwork to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to renew their green card. When someone naturalizes and becomes a citizen, they will no longer need to continue renewing their status.
The right to participate in the political process
Once someone becomes a citizen, they will be eligible to run for many political offices. They will also have the right to vote in local, state and federal elections. For many people who intend to live in the United States for the rest of their lives, having a say in the direction of the country can be a powerful motivator to become naturalized citizens.
Enhanced immigration opportunities
Those who become United States citizens will have more options for helping their family members become United States citizens. There are expanded options for the children of naturalized citizens, and citizens are the only ones who can help their parents or siblings secure visas to lawfully enter the country.
Although naturalization does require an interview and testing process, it is very manageable for most people with some preparation. Learning more about the benefits conveyed by naturalization may motivate some people to pursue citizenship.