Since the election of Donald J. Trump, we’ve noticed an increase in calls from people who want to become naturalized U.S. citizens. There are great personal reasons why someone would want to become a citizen: being able to vote in federal elections, hold public office, and being able to leave the U.S. for an extended amount of time. There are also three good immigration reasons.
First, being a U.S. citizen is the ultimate protection against removal (deportation) from the United States. Although there have been horror stories of U.S. citizens being caught in ICE raids, we generally don’t deport U.S. citizens.
Second, U.S. citizens can petition for family members. Spouses, unmarried children under 21 and parents of U.S. citizens are classified as “immediate relatives” which means that visas are always available to them. U.S. citizens can also file for adult children, married and unmarried, and for their brothers and sisters – though in these categories there is a wait between the family petition and the visa application.
Third, if you have foreign-born children, becoming a U.S. citizen may allow them to also gain U.S. citizenship. Depending on the specific set of circumstances, they could become U.S. citizens at the time you do as a matter of law – saving the expense and time of multiple applications.
As for the first two reasons I mentioned – voting and holding public office – your voice is more important than ever. Immigration is such an electrifying topic, yet the people often missing from the conversation are immigrants themselves. Who knows better than you about the complexity and cost of “doing it the right way”? Now more than ever we need you to be engaged in the political arena.
Every case is different and for some permanent residents, naturalization may not be a good option. There may be legitimate reasons to remain a green card holder indefinitely. However, in today’s climate, it may be worth a conversation with an experienced immigration attorney to talk about this option.