It is well known that green card holders cannot vote in federal elections. While some choose to remain green card holders lifelong, there are some who want to become full citizens and enjoy the same rights granted to those born on U.S. soil.
If you are one such permanent resident who wishes to vote in federal elections and take part in the civic life, the time for you to apply for naturalization is now. If you want to vote in the 2016 federal elections, don’t delay any longer and apply for citizenship as soon as possible!
You will need to file your citizenship application, Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS, along with the White House, is pushing naturalization efforts to reach out to as many eligible permanent residents as possible. The Obama administration launched a campaign during the Constitution week to encourage all eligible green card holders to apply for citizenship in the U.S. You can make use of the agency’s outreach events to know more about citizenship and the process of naturalization.
To apply for naturalization, one must pay $680, which includes the form filing fee as well as the fee for fingerprinting. Not all applicants need to pay the biometrics fee. They need to check the form instructions to know whether or not they need to pay this fee and then file their applications. Applicants whose income is below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, also may qualify for a fee waiver.
Earlier, the USCIS only accepted the N-400 form filing fee paid through checks and money orders. To make the process simpler and affordable to more eligible permanent residents, the agency is now accepting credit card payment for the N-400 filing fee. Those paying the fee through their credit cards will need to file Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions along with their N-400 application.
Green card holders can generally apply for citizenship after spending five years in the U.S. as permanent residents. For those married to U.S. citizens, the waiting time to apply for citizenship is even less. But, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), many spend an average of seven years in the U.S. before applying for naturalization, which is quite a long wait. If you hold a green card and if you meet the citizenship requirements, you don’t have to wait any longer. You can file your application at any time to become a citizen of the U.S.
Voting is not the only benefit citizenship will confer upon you; there are many other benefits. However, a little bit of preparation is necessary to apply for citizenship. That is because, you will need to take up a citizenship test to prove that you are good in English and know about the country’s history.
Applying for citizenship now will give you an opportunity to vote in the 2016 presidential elections and choose the President of the U.S. Don’t miss it out!