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Benefits to becoming a citizen

Florida residents who live in the United States legally as permanent residents may wonder about the benefits of naturalization. There are currently more than eight million green card holders living in the U.S. However, of all those eligible to pursue citizenship annually, a mere 8 percent do so.

There are many benefits of U.S. citizenship. The first is the right to vote in local, state and federal elections. But choosing naturalization may also allow immigrants to help keep their families together. Naturalized United States citizen have the right to sponsor relatives for citizenship, the same as natural-born citizens. A green card holder may be deported under certain circumstances, but neither citizens nor their children may be. Citizens can travel internationally at will, without concerns of losing their ability to reenter the United States. A green card holder who is absent from the United States for more than six months risks not being allowed to return.

However, even with all the benefits of citizenship, the vast majority of green card holders do not pursue it. Some may have language barriers. However, people who have lived in the United States for several years may be able to take the citizenship examination in their native languages. Some may fear that becoming a citizenship means turning their backs on their home countries. However, a person does not have to make that choice. The United States allows immigrants to maintain dual citizenship.

An immigration attorney may be able to assist legal residents who are interested in becoming citizens by providing them with information on the process. It may be possible for an attorney to assist with filing paperwork and help smooth roadblocks that arise in order to help permanent residents obtain all the rights available to citizens.

Source: Inquirer.net, "US naturalization—do it for your family", May 27, 2014

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