BENEFITS OF US CITIZENSHIP
By US Citizenship Naturalization Attorney Los Angeles & San Fernando Valley CA, Donald M. Pecchia, Esq. Published in “Ask the Immigration Lawyer.”
THE GREEN CARD MAY BE THE GOLD STANDARD, BUT BECOMING A CITIZEN MAY BE PLATINUM:
THE ADVANTAGES OF CITIZENSHIP
What are some of the Benefits of US Citizenship?
VOTING Benefits of US Citizenship
Holders of US Citizenship vote; Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) don’t. This is perhaps one of the greatest rights a free society can bestow on an individual.
NO QUOTA LIMITATIONS
Quota limitations do not apply to Immediate Relatives. Consequently, certain relatives of holders of US Citizenship will be in a better position to immigrate and do it faster than those of Permanent Residents (Green Cards holders) if they are categorized as Immediate Relatives. The Citizen’s spouse, unmarried children under 21, and parents of a U.S. Citizen if the child sponsoring the parent is over 21 are considered Immediate Relatives. This means that Immediate Relatives do not have to wait for their quota number to be current and can receive their Green Cards (Permanent Residents), if qualified, as soon as their petitions and applications can be processed. The particulars of the Immediate Relative classification are not discussed here.
BUMPING UP RELATIVES IN FAMILY PREFERENCE CATEGORIES BENEFITS OF US CITIZENSHIP
It’s amazing. As a US Citizenship Naturalization Attorney Los Angeles, I get calls from people who having been waiting years to bring relatives to the U.S. They were Green Card holders when they filed their petitions and subsequently became Citizens. These individuals can “bump up” their relatives to a different Family Preference Category thereby possibly knocking years of their wait. For example, Family Second Preference includes unmarried sons and daughters over 21 of Permanent Residents (Green Card holders). If the parent were a Citizen, those unmarried sons and daughters would be in Family First Preference and have a shorter wait. It should be noted that even if the sponsor of the alien becomes a Citizen after filing the petition for the relative with INS, the sponsor may still change the status of his petition.
NO ABANDONMENT OF RESIDENCY
Under certain circumstances, a Green Card holder may be out of the U.S. for too long a period of time and may lose his or her permanent residence. Citizenship may be lost, and a discussion of the same is beyond the scope of this article, but not for purposes of abandoning one’s residence as in the case of a Green Card holder who is out of the U.S. too long a period of time.
Green Cards issued since 1989 have expiration dates of ten years. Cards having expiration dates must be replaced at the expiration of the term.
What Green Card Holders (Permanent Residents) May Be Eligible for Citizenship?
If someone wants to become a naturalized Citizen there are various requirements. Some of the those requirements, stated in general terms and subject to certain exceptions which are beyond the scope of this article, include:
WAITING PERIOD – The person must have the Green Card now and during all of the past five years; three years if married to a U.S. Citizen.
PRESENCE IN U.S. – The person must have been physically residing in the U.S. continuously for at least half of the time or 2 ½ years. This requirement applies to the three-year period as well. However, there are exceptions to what one would think is continuous residency not addressed here.
LOCAl RESIDENCY – the person must have resided for at least three months within the State or INS district where the application is being filed.
AGE – The person must be 18 years old or older. There is an exception for Children.
GOOD MORAL CHARACTER – The person must show good moral character for the last five years. There are numerous interpretations of what constitutes, “good moral character.” As you can imagine, this requirement may raise questions for certain applicants. In those cases a word of good legal advice may greatly assist an applicant uncertain about whether he or she can meet this requirement.
OBSERVE THE LAWS – There are also requirements concerning not breaking laws. Again, there are exceptions here and good advice helps, particularly if a person has had problems with the law.
KNOWLEDGE OF U.S. – Most immigrants are aware of the requirements concerning knowledge of U.S. history and government, English language ability, etc. Here too there are exceptions depending upon age of immigrant and years in the U.S. as a permanent resident. Generally, the requirements are easier for immigrants who have been here for longer periods of time and are older.
There are also special classes of individuals to whom special laws apply with respect to obtaining Citizenship. If an individual has a questionable background, applying for Citizenship may bring them under scrutiny of the INS. Though the benefits can be great, it should also be noted that it is possible that the INS may discover something an applicant for Citizenship has done which violates the conditions of having a Green Card and take it away, thereby making the person deportable. It is advisable for anyone having questions concerning their eligibility for citizenship or background seek the assistance of a professional familiar with these matters.
Information provided on this site is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice. Individuals should speak with an attorney knowledgeable in such matters concerning their particular situation. Also see Legal Disclaimer section of this site.
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Benefits of US Citizenship Los Angeles San Fernando Valley CA