Green Card vs. Citizenship: 3 reasons Why Keep the Green Card!!!

In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick touches upon an important debate in immigration law, is it better to keep your green card or apply for U.S. Citizenship once you are eligible to do so?

This video will explain the types of circumstances in which an individual may prefer to maintain his or her green card and opt out of becoming a U.S. Citizen.

To learn more about this important topic, please keep watching.


Differences between U.S. Citizenship versus Permanent Residence

U.S. Citizenship

Applying for U.S. Citizenship leads to a variety of legal rights and privileges that are not available to permanent residents (green card holders). For some, these benefits are a compelling reason to apply for citizenship to have access to the wide variety of opportunities that are only available to naturalized citizens.

Some of these benefits include but are not limited to:

  1. Having the Right to Vote in state and federal elections
  2. Applying to federal jobs that are only available to U.S. Citizens such as law enforcement positions, and occupations that require a high security clearance such as working in the defense industry or for the U.S. military
  3. Sponsorship of Family Members: U.S. Citizens can petition to immigrate their immediate relatives to the United States without being subject to the numerical limitations of the Visa Bulletin. Permanent residents on the other hand may only petition for certain relatives and such applications are subject to numerical limitations.
  4. International Travel Benefits: U.S. Citizens may also engage in international travel without having to worry about placing their legal status in jeopardy. Unlike citizens, permanent residents must maintain continuous residence and physical presence in the United States, or risk losing their immigration status
  5. Criminal Offenses: Certain criminal offenses can lead to the deportation of a green card holder as well as other serious issues including being permanently barred from entering the U.S. that do not affect U.S. Citizens in the same manner.

What are some reasons that might make preserving Permanent Residency more beneficial than attaining U.S. Citizenship?

Despite the benefits afforded to U.S. Citizens, there are some circumstances which might make preserving permanent residency a more favorable option for at least some individuals.

  • Tax obligations are one major consideration in this discussion.

In the United States, an immigrant who obtains a green card is treated as a lawful permanent resident and is considered a U.S. tax resident for U.S. income tax purposes.

As a general matter, U.S. tax residents are taxed in the same manner as U.S. citizens on their worldwide income, while nonresidents are generally taxed on U.S. source income and income effectively connected with U.S. trade or business.

Permanent residents who do not wish to be subject to the U.S. tax resident obligations may seek to relinquish their permanent residency at a local U.S. consulate or abandon their status by operation of law (by remaining abroad for more than 12 months without a re-entry permit).

On the other hand, U.S. Citizens sometimes consider relinquishing their citizenship for tax avoidance purposes. As a result, such individuals could be subject to expatriation taxes which are costly. Additionally, the process of relinquishing U.S. Citizenship is much lengthier and more complex, requiring action at a U.S. Consulate abroad.

  • Certain Countries Prohibit Dual Citizenship

While dual nationality is recognized in the United States, certain countries do not allow a person to exercise rights of nationality in two countries and require the individual to renounce the other.

An example is Germany, which considers a dual national in Germany, a German citizen only. Japan also prohibits dual nationality. When a Japanese person voluntarily acquires a foreign nationality, he or she loses their Japanese nationality.

Foreign nationals from countries that do not recognize dual nationality, should consult an experienced immigration lawyer in their country before acquiring U.S. citizenship. Otherwise, they may put in jeopardy their legal rights and protections.

For this group of individuals, it may be more beneficial to remain a green card holder and opt of applying for U.S. Citizenship to avoid these repercussions.

  • Potential Obstacles for Permanent Residency gained by Marriage to a U.S. Citizen – Marriages of Short Duration

Some of our clients gained their permanent residency through marriage to a U.S. Citizen but are no longer married to that individual. In some of these cases, the foreign national may not have been required to attend an in-person interview with their spouse, as is customarily required by USCIS to evaluate the bona fides of the marriage.

These cases can cause additional complications for green card holders applying for U.S. citizenship. We have seen that in at least some of these cases, the applicant is questioned about the legitimacy of their marriage to the U.S. Citizen spouse at the citizenship interview.

Those who had a marriage of very short duration and have no documentary evidence of the bona fides of the marriage can run into very serious problems ranging from denial to rescission of their green card.

As a result, it may not be advised for such individuals to apply for U.S. citizenship, if they cannot produce the documentary evidence necessary to demonstrate the legitimacy of the marriage.

  • Criminal Record Post Green Card

Permanent residents who have committed criminal offenses after receiving their green card may also encounter problems when applying for U.S. Citizenship, putting their immigration status in jeopardy.

Such individuals must consult with an immigration attorney before attempting to apply for U.S. Citizenship, or the renewal of their permanent residency, to determine their eligibility for immigration benefits and potential obstacles down the road.

  • International Travel

For individuals who travel far and wide, having a U.S. passport may not be advantageous due to travel restrictions that some foreign countries may place on holders of U.S. passports. For instance, some countries may require U.S. citizens to obtain a visa before gaining entry. Whether this poses an obstacle for you will ultimately depend on your personal travel needs and preferences.

For information about applying for U.S. Citizenship in 2024, please click here.

Contact Us Today. We hope that this information was helpful. If you have any further questions or would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204

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