How to Decide to Renew a Green Card or to Apply for U.S. Citizenship?

As a green card holder, you might wonder whether you should renew your green card or apply for U.S. citizenship. Green cards don’t offer as much protection as citizenship does, so you may want to consider applying for citizenship instead of renewing your permanent residency status. 

Applying for U.S. citizenship isn’t as difficult as it seems, but it can be if you’re completely unprepared and haven’t studied for the exam. Instead of spending hours researching, you can have a team of experts help determine your eligibility and walk you through all the steps.

Is Renewing My Green Card the Best Choice?

That’s for you to decide, but let’s do a quick comparison of the benefits of renewing a green card versus applying for U.S. citizenship:

  • With citizenship, the government cannot take away your US citizenship unless you choose to expatriate.
  • Citizens can also take full advantage of all the rights reserved for citizens in the U.S. such as the right to vote and hold a U.S. passport.
  • And you’ll save money by filing for citizenship. Citizenship is a one-time fee, but you would have to renew your green card every ten years.

If you renew your green card you’ll keep all of the benefits you previously had, but you’ll miss out on the new rights and opportunities afforded to citizens.

The Benefits of Your Green Card

As a green card holder, you understand the advantages that permanent residency affords you. Green card holders have many benefits, including: 

  • The freedom to work and live in the U.S. permanently. You are authorized to work in any job in the U.S., including many forms of government work.
  • The opportunity to travel outside the U.S. and return freely. You can also travel anywhere within the U.S. and live in any part of the U.S. you wish. You may wish to take additional steps to safeguard your permanent residency if leaving for more than six months.
  • The ability to sponsor relatives to get their own green cards. Therefore, you can ensure that your family is united in the U.S. and enjoys the same right to live and work in the U.S.

If you don’t want to give up your current citizenship to your home country or simply enjoy being a permanent resident, renew your green card.

Downsides of Green Cards

Unlike U.S. citizens, green card holders must maintain their status by keeping valid green cards in their possession. In general, you must apply for a new green card within six months of your current green card expiring. You will often receive temporary documents that prove your status while waiting for your new green card to arrive.

Your green card needs to be renewed or replaced every ten years, as it expires. If you have a conditional green card, your green card will likely expire every two years, and you will need to adjust your status or apply for renewal more often.

If you lost your green card or it got stolen, you need to replace it ASAP. Also, if you need to apply for green card renewal to ensure that you have the documentation in place in case any authorities request it. In the U.S., it’s a misdemeanor crime not to carry your green card with you at all times.

Is the Expiration Date of Your Green Card Near?

If your green card will expire within the next six months, a tough decision is ahead of you. You can choose to either renew your green card or start your U.S. citizenship application. Before you begin to file paperwork to become a U.S. citizen, first determine if you qualify for citizenship.

When Can I Apply for U.S. Citizenship?

People who have had their green card for five years or more, live in the United States as a permanent resident, and have displayed all the characteristics of an upstanding citizen, are likely eligible for U.S. citizenship. The only exceptions to the five-year rule are refugees, asylum seekers, and individuals married to U.S. citizens.

The Benefits of U.S. Citizenship

There are many benefits to obtaining citizenship over renewing your green card. U.S. citizenship allows you to:

  • Protect and provide your family with the same freedom as you.
  • Bring your family members to reside in the U.S. with you. You can apply for a green card or an immigrant visa for them.
  • Not have to fear deportation. As a U.S. citizen, you won’t have to worry about deportation as citizens cannot get deported.
  • Grant immediate U.S. citizenship to your children even if they are born overseas.
  • Have the full benefits of a U.S. citizen provided by the government.
  • Have access to nearly any country with a U.S. Passport. 
  • Become a voter and gain the power to influence the outcome of elections
  • Become an elected official and play a vital role in the politics and outcome of democratic elections in your country, state, and municipality.
  • Some US government and State government jobs are reserved only for US citizens.

If you are thinking of applying for U.S. citizenship after your green card expires, know you will have to first pass an interview and citizenship test.

How Hard Is It to Apply for Citizenship? 

Applying for citizenship is a long and tedious process, but it’s not difficult so long as you have the proper knowledge and understanding of all the forms and requirements. Going through the legal paperwork to become a citizen can be a grind, but ultimately, you should have zero issues if done correctly. 

The main difficulty of applying for citizenship primarily lies in the interview and testing portions of the application process. You will have to take a naturalization test to assess your basic English language skills, understanding of civics, and basic laws of the U.S. Many people get very anxious about this part. Rest assured that there’s nothing to worry about if you study. 

How Long Will It Take to Become a Citizen? 

You may wonder exactly how long it takes to become a U.S. citizen officially. The truth is that the timeframe always varies from state to state and by individual applications. Some applications can get processed within a year, and others can take several years. 

Even though your path to citizenship already started when you first obtained your green card, the process can still take a long time if the USCIS is swamped with applications. 

This is why becoming a citizen is just a matter of patience and waiting. Once you get all your forms and tests done, all you can do is wait. However, the end result is well worth it, as you will obtain all the benefits and rights of a full-fledged citizen of the U.S.

Are There Any Resources Available to Help Me?

Whether you want to renew your green card or apply for citizenship, our team can help you throughout each step of the process. The amount of time, preparation, and paperwork required shouldn’t be underestimated. 

You don’t want to go through all of this work just to get your application rejected due to a simple error. Get things done right the first time by getting experts to help you file everything correctly and prepare you to ace the naturalization process smoothly. 

Get Help From Our Experts Today 

FileRight is ready to help you file all your paperwork and get ready for your citizenship test and interview. Given the amount of time and effort it takes to become a citizen. Call us today to learn more about how we can help you on this journey. 

Meet Rosa. She just became a U.S. citizen with help from FileRight!

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