It always amazes me when I hear stories about US lawful permanent resident green card holders who were eligible to become US citizens, but never did. The stories usually arise when the green card holder is being deported for something that happened after they could have submitted the application for citizenship and naturalized. Had they already become a citizen, very few incidents would have resulted in revocation of the citizenship and deportation. Here are a few reasons why you should apply for citizenship as soon as you are eligible:

  1. CITIZENSHIP APPLICATION FEES ARE LIKELY TO INCREASE. Over the years we have witnessed a dramatic increase in citizenship application fees charged by USCIS, and the situation is likely to continue. In the summer of 2007, USCIS increased fees on many immigration applications, including the N-400 Application for Naturalization. At the time, the N-400 fee was increased almost 80% from $330 to $595. Recent statements made by immigration officials hint at another increase in the near future to help combat the decrease in immigration application fees collected across the board in 2009. If the government imposed the same percentage increase, the new naturalization application fee would be $1071!!! Why wait? Apply today!
  2. USCIS CITIZENSHIP APPLICATION PROCESSING TIMES ARE UNBELIEVABLE SHORT RIGHT NOW! Shortly before the 2007 citizenship application fee increase, USCIS was flooded with 400,000 citizenship applications in July 2007. They just recently finished digging themselves out of the citizenship processing backlog where applicants waited up to a year to become citizens. Now the average time to complete the naturalization process is 4 months (citizenship application processing times by office). However, if fees increase again as predicted, we can expect another long backlog. Why not apply now while the lines are short?
  3. GREEN CARD HOLDERS ARE DEPORTABLE; US CITIZENS ARE NOT! Certain crimes or illegal activity, such as voting in federal elections, could get a green card holder deported. The same activity will not cause a person to lose acquired US citizenship. If you meet the citizenship requirements, but have developed a criminal record since obtaining your green card, contact a naturalization attorney to discuss whether it is safe for you to apply for citizenship.
  4. GREEN CARD HOLDERS CANNOT VOTE IN FEDERAL ELECTIONS! Only US citizens can vote in federal elections (and most state and local elections). Why live in a country where you are not permitted to participate in the political process? Isn’t freedom one of the reasons why you came to the US in the first place? Apply for citizenship now to ensure that you will be permitted to vote in the 2012 presidential election!
  5. US CITIZENS CAN SPONSOR OTHER IMMIGRANTS IMMEDIATELY; MOST GREEN CARD HOLDERS MUST WAIT IN LINE. Currently, the waiting list for green card holders who petition for their spouses to become green card holders is approximately five years. US citizens can sponsor their spouses immediately.
  6. GREEN CARD HOLDERS DO NOT QUALIFY FOR SOME FEDERAL JOBS. The US government is a favored employer because it offers great hours, great pay and great benefits. However, certain of these choice jobs are reserved for US citizens only.
  7. AREN’T YOU SICK OF WAITING IN THE GREEN CARD HOLDER LINE AT THE AIRPORT? I recently wrote an article about my tour of passport control at LAX airport in Los Angeles.  There were roughly three groups of weary travelers – US citizens who breezed through passport control and customs; green card holders who walked slowly through; and everyone else who crawled through. Further, green card holders who have problematic backgrounds, such as prior criminal convictions, can expect to be subjected to the dreaded secondary inspection each and every time they enter the US. There is no way to escape this burecratic red tape. US Citizens, on the other hand, rarely experience such problems.
  8. TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE US FOR HOWEVER LONG YOU WANT Most people that immigrate to the United States leave behind a life abroad and often want to visit for expended periods of time. However, a green card holder can lose their status, and their green card, if they are outside the US for too long. Stop worrying about risking your green card on triroad – become a US citizen now!
  9. STOP HAVING TO RENEW YOUR GREEN CARD! Modern green cards must be renewed every 10 years by filing form I-90. After filing form I-90, permanent residents must attend a biometrics and fingerprint interview and will not receive a new green card until they have passed a background check. This process is costly (~$350), time-consuming (currently about 100 days) and, if negative information is uncovered during the background check, can lead to a request for more information, an interview or deportation proceedings. Once you become a citizen, you will never have to renew your green card again.
  10. CARRY A US PASSPORT AND OBTAIN HELP FROM US EMBASSIES & US CONSULATES ABROAD The United States has a robust and professional diplomatic corp whose sole mission is to aid US citizens who are traveling abroad. This resource can be invaluable if you lose a travel document or encounter legal trouble overseas.