Millions of people immigrate to the United States every year in search of a better life. Some are here on a temporary work visa, while others live and work in the U.S. permanently with a green card. A select few take the final step of naturalization to become U.S. citizens and enjoy the benefits and responsibilities that come with that distinction.
Economic studies have shown that naturalized U.S. citizens earn more money than their immigrant counterparts. But why? Several reasons could help explain the advantage citizens have over non-citizens.
1. Citizens Have Access to More Jobs
Some occupations have restrictions that act as barriers to non-citizen immigrants. For example, only U.S. citizens can apply for federal jobs in the U.S. government. These positions tend to be relatively high-paying and stable in comparison to the rest of the job market.
Citizens also have access to a U.S. passport—a privilege that makes a person more employable for jobs that require travel. In addition, U.S. passport holders can travel to 166 countries visa-free or with a visa on arrival, while non-citizens are limited in the amount of time they can spend abroad.
2. Citizens Are Typically Older and More Experienced
According to recent USAFacts data, 65 percent of naturalized individuals are 45 years or older, while only 36 percent of non-citizens fall in that same age range.
Additionally, naturalized citizens are 10 years older than non-naturalized immigrants on average. This age disparity means that citizens have an additional 10 years of residence and potential work experience in the United States, both of which can translate to higher pay.
3. Citizens Are Often More Educated
Higher education provides more opportunities in the job market, opening doors to a broader range of options. Additionally, occupations that require a college degree or extensive training generally pay more than entry-level positions without the same prerequisites.
Naturalized citizens are more likely to have attained a bachelor’s degree or higher in comparison to non-citizen immigrants or even natural-born U.S. citizens. Meanwhile, over one-third of non-naturalized citizens have not graduated high school, dramatically limiting their job opportunities.
4. Citizenship Tells Employers You Have What They Need
U.S. citizens are more likely to have characteristics employers desire. This includes a basic command of the English language and good moral character, which are two of the requirements for naturalization.
5. Citizens Are Committed to Remaining on the Job
Taking the plunge to become a citizen tells employers that you won’t be leaving the country anytime soon. Instead, citizens are more likely to stay in the United States, which communicates that you are more likely to be invested in the job.
6. Citizens Are More Likely to Invest in Education and Training
Planned permanent residency makes people more likely to make long-term investments like seeking a higher education degree, buying a home, or starting a business. These are all activities that could eventually turn a profit and raise a naturalized citizen’s income level.
How Much More Money Can You Make as a Citizen?
Naturalized citizens make 50 to 70 percent more than non-citizen immigrants. This difference is primarily influenced by the characteristics of individuals who naturalize since, as stated above, new citizens are typically older and have been here longer than other immigrants.
Additionally, the type of person who seeks citizenship tends to value education and hard work. But even taking those individual characteristics out, citizenship still has a positive impact on immigrants’ incomes by about 8 to 11 percent, according to research published by the University of Southern California (USC).
Is It Worth Becoming a U.S. Citizen?
If you plan to live in this country for the rest of your life, there are multiple benefits to becoming a U.S. citizen. In addition to the potential for a higher-paying job, as a citizen you:
- Don’t have to renew your status continually: A visa or green card eventually expires, and you must repeatedly renew your status to maintain legal residency. U.S. citizenship is permanent, so you do not have to file paperwork or pay renewal fees to keep it current.
- Gain the right to vote and hold public office: Citizens can take a much more active role in their government by voting in state, local, and federal elections and becoming eligible to serve in many elected positions.
- Become eligible for federal grants and scholarships: Federal funds and financial aid are generally reserved for U.S. citizens, including those who are naturalized.
- Cannot be deported: Immigrants who have not attained citizenship can have their legal status revoked by the government and face deportation under certain circumstances. However, naturalized citizens have the permanent and irrevocable right to stay in the U.S. for the rest of their lives.
Achieve U.S. Citizenship With Form N-400
The journey to becoming a U.S. citizen begins when you file USCIS Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. And with filing assistance from FileRight.com, your success is guaranteed.
We eliminate the guesswork, walking you step-by-step through the process and checking your forms for errors that could otherwise lead to rejection. Finally, your application will be polished and ready to submit using the provided pre-paid, addressed envelope.
Check whether you are eligible to apply for naturalization by taking our U.S. Citizenship qualification quiz.