Immigrants seeking a pathway to citizenship may have different reasons for wanting to become a United States citizen. Some desire the opportunity to legally work in the U.S. Others want to be able to start their own company in this country and contribute to the economy. Many immigrants want the ability to vote to appoint representatives that reflect their values and beliefs. However, there are a few lesser-known benefits to becoming a U.S. citizen.
Petitioning for family members
Citizens of the U.S. are allowed to petition for their parents, children, siblings and adult-married children to be allowed to live in the U.S. Lawful immigrants with Permanent Resident status can only petition for their spouses, underage children and unmarried-adult offspring. Currently, the wait time for petitions for family members is so long many people forgo applying.
Minors can receive Lawful Permanent Resident status
Immigrant children under the age of 18 are protected under who are protected under Lawful Permanent Resident status can automatically become citizens if their parents become naturalized.
Opportunity for dual citizenship
Many countries offer dual citizenship. Immigrants who are resistant to becoming naturalized in the U.S. for fear they may lose their residency in their home country should be aware that swearing allegiance to the United States with the Oath of Citizenship does not automatically mean a person cannot be a dual citizen. Immigrants who have questions about whether their country offers modified versions of dual citizenship, or if there are restrictions on that status, can contact their consulate or embassy for information.
Public benefits access
Naturalization in the U.S. ensures that citizens can gain to access to Medicare and other certain public health care benefits and programs. Individuals that only carry Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holders) status are not eligible for programs that are important for seniors and those with disabilities. To access Medicare, people with green cards have to pay an expensive premium that is dependent on their work history and how long they have lived in the U.S. Green card holders also have to pay a premium to access the Supplemental Security Income program that pays for health care benefits for adults and low-income minors with disabilities. Therefore, naturalization provides the most complete protection for the most vulnerable populations in the U.S.