If you have been a permanent resident for over five years, or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen, you should consider citizenship. Some of the advantages of becoming a U.S. citizen are the right to vote, run for elected office, work for the government, and even change your name. Becoming a citizen, also known as naturalization, can also protect you from deportation, of which even permanent residents are at risk.
Maybe the most important benefit of becoming a U.S. citizen is the right to vote to elect representatives. When the people have the right to choose who will represent them, they are participating actively in the development of their communities. When voters make a conscious vote in their local elections, years later they might be able to vote for the same person in state or federal elections. In the 2018 midterm election more women were elected than ever before. This is a clear example of how conscious voters influence the future of the country. New citizens can also participate as candidates in elections!
Another crucial reason to naturalize is that U.S. citizens convicted of crimes do not face deportation consequences. However, non-citizens, even permanent residents, can be deported for a variety of convictions such as violating drug laws, domestic violence, shoplifting, and other crimes, major and minor. Even if the crime was committed decades ago, legal grounds for deportation exist for non-citizens. Becoming a U.S. citizen will give you the peace of mind that any crimes from your past or future will not lead to a deportation order in the present.
Also, a requirement for some government jobs is to be a U.S. citizen. Even if your education or work experience is high, you will not be able to obtain certain jobs in the government or for contractors of the government if that job requires that the applicant is a U.S. citizen. If you become a U.S. citizen, you will have more options to apply for jobs.
Finally, if you dislike your middle name or have had a lot of problems because your name or last name(s) are constantly misspelled or pronounced incorrectly, you will have the opportunity to change it when you apply for your naturalization. The best part is that you won’t need to pay an extra fee for that. You can even choose to change to a totally different name.
Do not procrastinate the application for naturalization. Even if you have had encounters with the law different from traffic tickets, you might be eligible for naturalization. Depending on the country of your nationality, you may be able to have dual citizenship. An immigration attorney can help you to apply for naturalization, so you can protect yourself from deportation and have the advantages that U.S. citizenship will offer you.