Is every legal permanent resident who is eligible for citizenship, apply for it? Per statistics, every year 90% of the 8 million legal permanent residents who are eligible to become US citizens choose not to do so. Though there are many advantages of being a US citizen such as the right to vote, apply for a U.S. passport, work for the U.S. Government what exactly is holding back these residents from becoming citizens? Is the fee for the citizenship application that is preventing them to become citizens?
If we compare the submission fee for the citizenship application, in 1990, it was a mere $90 whereas ten years later, it is $695. That’s quite an exorbitant increase. And maybe because LPRs have the legal right to work and stay in the US permanently, they do think twice when it comes to applying for citizenship and the fee could loom large in their minds.
But as a LPR, if you have decided not to apply for citizenship just because of the fee, its time you give it another thought. It is understandable from the LPR’s point of view that their status as lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card holder) will not expire. But one significant point to ponder is that the card does expire. Green cards issued after August 1989 comes with a validity of ten years. All are required to renew their Green Cards before its expiration. And after the recent fee hike, the fee to renew a green card is $365 plus a biometric fee of $85, thus making a total of $450. Though is it comparatively lesser than the citizenship application fee, we need to think of other factors too.
Once you become a US citizen, you are a citizen for life unless you renounce your U.S. citizenship voluntarily. Being a U.S. citizen, there is no restriction for you to enter or exit the US and also the time you spend outside the U.S. is not restricted. Additionally, it helps when you in travel as some countries do not require visas of US citizens. Another significant benefit is that only US citizens can apply for a US passport. With a U.S. Passport, one can get assistance from the U.S. Government when he/she is overseas. US citizens will also be eligible for federal jobs in the US.and they can also become elected officials. Another advantage of US citizens over LPRs is that, if accused of any illegal activity, there are chances where LPRs can be deported. On the other hand US citizens have the right to an attorney and a fair trial and need not face the difficulty of being deported.