Becoming an American citizen is not only a dream and a goal for thousands of people around the world, but also a viable possibility for undocumented workers and green card holders and their families who are now living in Southern Florida and across the country.
Having a green card already has some advantages, but obtaining U.S. citizenship gives individuals many more benefits. From a practical and privacy standpoint, it makes sense for current green card holders to pursue naturalization.
What challenges do green card holders face?
First, they must renew their green card every ten years, and if they move, green card holders must inform the government. They may also lose their legal status if they leave the country and then stay beyond the allowable limit. This may prevent a green card holder from beyond able to come back into the country if the government agency does not grant them a reentry permit.
When an immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, they may obtain a passport that allows them unrestricted travel and reentry. Other benefits include:
- the right to vote
- social security benefits
- gun ownership
- access to education scholarships and government jobs
- citizenship for children and extended family
What is the process of naturalization?
There are two main avenues for becoming an American citizen: naturalization or acquisition. Acquisition applies to the minor children of U.S. citizens who apply on behalf of them before birth or before the age of 18.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) outlines a ten-step process that establishes eligibility requirements for applicants that includes:
- determination or review of current citizenship status,
- preparation and submission of Form-400
- biometrics appointment as necessary
- granting of eligibility, continuation of process with additional required information, or application denial
- on approval, scheduled participation in naturalization ceremony, including reciting the Oath of Allegiance and review of citizenship rights and responsibilities
Frequent changes in U.S. immigration law can make it challenging to know where to start. Individuals in Miami and surrounding areas who are curious about the citizenship process should also find out more about some of the many other advantages of naturalization.