Now that you have successfully obtained permanent resident status, or the green card, we would like to highlight for you the benefits of naturalizing as a U.S. citizen. Remember that unlike citizenship, a green card is a privilege and not a right and can be taken away from you for various reasons.
- Added Security
- United States citizens cannot be deported, while green card holders may be deported in certain cases, such as being convicted of a crime.
- If you leave the U.S. for over 6 months, you could lose your residency.
- A false claim of U.S. citizenship can result in deportation.
- Petty crimes can result in deportation.
- U.S. citizens do not have to carry proof of citizenship, while green card holders must always be able to prove their legal status in the United States by carrying a valid green card. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has detained permanent residents who did not have their green cards with them
- U.S. citizens do not have to report address changes, but residents do
- Financial Savings and Benefits
- Green cards must be renewed every 10 years for a fee (currently $370), while citizenship does not expire or need to be renewed
- If you have children under 18 yrs. they may become citizens with you
- U.S. citizens can receive scholarships, grants, public education
- Citizens have access to more jobs
- Additional Benefits
- Citizens can petition for more family members and faster than residents
- U.S. citizens can vote and have a voice in community, state, and country
- Citizens have more access to public benefits than permanent residents
- Citizens have the right to run for public office
- Citizens are eligible to receive additional services and assistance from U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad
- Citizens can serve as officers in the U.S. military
- Citizens can visit most European countries without a visa
- Estate Planning Advantages:
In general, the unlimited marital deduction allows you to leave everything to your spouse without paying any estate taxes. However, the IRS disallows the unlimited marital deduction to non-U.S. citizens. Unlimited amounts may not be left to non-citizen spouses because the government is concerned that in the event that the surviving spouse were to receive the funds without any tax, he or she could leave the country and the U.S. government will never have their chance to tax these assets for estate tax purposes. Therefore, there are limitations on the amount that a non-U.S. citizen surviving spouse may receive without any estate taxes.
Large amounts passed to a non-U.S. citizen spouse are subject to federal estate tax unless the funds are placed into a qualified domestic trust, or QDOT. The QDOT does not eliminate the estate tax exposure entirely if the surviving non-U.S. citizen spouse needs to get at the principal. Any principal taken out of the trust is taxed as though it had been included in the first-to-die spouse’s estate. Such inclusion results in a significant increase in tax liability and substantially less funds for the surviving spouse. ?Although individuals have effectively transferred funds using the gift technique as well, caution must be taken with the annual gift limitation to a non-U.S. citizen spouse. Any gifts above $133,000 to a non-U.S. citizen spouse will trigger substantial gift tax.
- Steps to becoming a U.S. Citizen
- Submission of an Application to USCIS
- Interview and Citizenship Test
- Oath Ceremony – After the swearing-in oath ceremony you will be a U.S. citizen and should:
- Immediately apply for U.S. Passport
- Register to Vote!
- Citizenship Test
During your naturalization eligibility interview, a USCIS officer will test your ability to read, write, and speak English (unless you are exempt from the English requirements). You will also be given a civics test in English (to test your knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government) unless you are exempt. Even if exempt from the English test, you will need to take the civics test unless you qualify for a waiver. You may also be eligible to take the civics test in your native language with the assistance of an interpreter if you qualify. ?For more USCIS information about the English and Civics test please visit the USCIS website at: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis.
- Dual Citizenship
The most frequent question we hear regarding applying for U.S. citizenship is: Can I keep my home country citizenship?
From the U.S. perspective it does not matter how many other passports you have as long as you have your U.S. citizenship and promise to uphold the laws of the U.S. Although many countries now accept dual citizenship, it all depends on the laws of your particular country. Please call your consulate or embassy for more information. Go to http://www.embassyworld.com/ to find out what number to call. ?In conclusion, there are so many benefits and advantages to U.S. citizenship over lawful permanent residence that we strongly encourage our clients to pursue citizenship whenever possible. For further information about U.S. citizenship and what it might mean for you or your family, please contact our office.