Once you hold a green card, you may move your attention to the next step – becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States. Although that is not everyone’s goal and some may choose to stay in the country on a green card, there are some significant advantages to gaining citizen status.
A green card is conditional, and there is always the possibility that you could lose it. For instance, you may have to surrender your green card if you fail to renew on time, if court convicts you of certain crimes, if you spend too much time outside the U.S. or for a multitude of other reasons. Citizenship, however, is yours to keep.
Citizenship gives you a U.S. passport
As a green card holder, you must travel on your home country’s passport. Depending on where you are from, that could mean added complications traveling to many places that you could easily access with a U.S. passport.
It removes the limit on time out of the country
As a resident on a green card, you need to watch how much time you spend out of the country. Planning how long you will be away can be challenging. For instance, you may travel overseas for a couple of business meetings and a family holiday. Then you receive news your mother is ill, so you drop everything to go and care for her. How would you feel if it reached a point where you had to choose – return to the U.S. to protect your green card or stay and help your mother through her last weeks or months? Getting citizenship can remove that problem.
If you can see the benefits of citizenship, it would be helpful to find out more about naturalization, as the citizenship process is called. You can apply once you have had the green card for five years or have been married to a U.S. citizen for three years.