Permanent residents have most of the rights of U.S. citizens. As a result, many people who become eligible for U.S. citizenship never apply. However, it’s important to note there are many important reasons to consider U.S. citizenship. Most importantly, residents must remember that they do not, technically, have the right to remain in the United States permanently and may be deported if you commit a crime. Citizens, on the other hand, may not be deported. Further, citizens enjoy many rights and benefits that residents do not. As a citizen you can:
- Serve on a jury
- Apply for a U.S. passport and travel to hundreds of countries visa free
- Ability to petition parents, married children and siblings to the United States
- Apply for federal jobs
- Become an elected official
- Be eligible for federal grants and scholarships
- Obtain more government benefits
Some other advantages of becoming a U.S. citizen include the ability to take longer trips and even reside outside of the United States without needed advance parole, easier travel and re-entry to the United States, and no longer needing to renew your green card every 10 years.
If you meet the requirements and don’t have any complications, such as a criminal background, then the process is relatively straightforward. The process starts with submitting form N-400. A few weeks later, you will receive a notice to complete biometrics. Depending on processing time for your field office, you will then need to wait 4-12 months to be scheduled for an interview, where your English and civic knowledge will be tested at a simple informal test with the USCIS officer. Finally, if you pass the test and there are no other concerns with your application, you should receive a notice to appear for an oath ceremony within a few weeks. At this ceremony, you will receive your certificate of naturalization.