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By Dona Maria Avanzado March 17th, 2011
Are you a green card holder content with being one and not interested in applying for US citizenship? If so, give it a second thought. Statistics show that every year 90% of the 8 million Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) who are eligible to become US citizens choose not to do so.
What exactly stops these LPR from filing the citizenship application even after knowing the 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? One factor that is holding them back is the fee for the citizenship application.
Comparing the fee for the citizenship application, in 1990 it was only $90 while after ten years, it is $695. That is an an exorbitant figure. LPR have the right to work and stay legally in the US permanently, so they are just content with that. They do not think about applying for citizenship and the fee could be a major factor.
But if you have decided not to apply for American citizenship only because you have to shell out some extra money, it is time you give it a second thought. Though their status as Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card holder) does not expire, one point to consider is that the Green Card will expire. Green Cards that were issued after August 1989 has a validity of ten years and all LPR have to renew Green Cards before its expiration.
An LPR has to carry the Green Card at all times as proof of his/her legal status. So if a Green Card is lost, stolen or damaged it has to be replaced. A replacement green card is also required in the case of a name change (maybe due to marriage or divorce).
The fee to renew/replace a Green Card is $365 excluding a biometric fee of $85, which makes a total of $450. Though lesser when compared to the citizenship application fee, we need to think of other factors too.
US citizens are citizens for life unless you renounce the citizenship voluntarily. US citizens do not have any restriction to enter or exit the US anytime and also the time they spend abroad is not restricted. In addition, it helps during your travel as some countries do not require visas for US citizens. Another important advantage is that only US citizens can apply for a US passport. Having a U.S. passport, you can get assistance from the U.S. government when you are overseas.
US citizens are also eligible for federal jobs in the US. and you can also become an elected official. Another major advantage of US citizens over LPR is that, if accused of any illegal activity, there are chances where LPR can be deported. Whereas only citizens have the right to an attorney and a fair trial and need not worry about being deported.
As mentioned earlier, green card holders have to renew their card every ten years for the rest of their lives. So imagine if you have to renew it four times from the date you got the green card. Under such a situation, you will be spending at least $1800 assuming that fees do not go up and it is in fact not wise to think the fee will not go up further.
Green card holders who are eligible to file the citizenship application but who have decided not to apply will surely come to know that the expense will increase sooner than later. Think again. It is surely a wise move to apply for citizenship! Apply now!