Many people who want to live and work in the U.S. permanently are perfectly happy with their status as a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). There may be good reasons for this but, before you decide, you should be aware that there are significant advantages to becoming a citizen.

The United States is actively welcoming new citizens. Over the last decade, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) brought over 7.2 million people into citizenship through naturalization. Last year alone, 756,000 people were naturalized.

Here are some of the key advantages of being a U.S. citizen:

Voting. People with experience as immigrants have valuable knowledge to share, and voting is one way to share it with your community, your state and the United States as a whole. Naturalized citizens can vote in all elections.

The right not to be deported. This is one of the most important advantages of being a citizen. As long as you obtained your citizenship lawfully, you cannot be deported for any reason.

Running for office. Naturalized citizens qualify to run for all but a few public offices. Running for president of the United States does require birthright citizenship, but you could run for Congress or a state-level office.

A U.S. passport. As a permanent resident, you risk abandoning your status if you leave the U.S. for 180 days or longer. Citizens can travel internationally without risking their status, and they are entitled to assistance and protection from U.S. embassies and consulates.

Petitioning for more family members to come to the U.S. Not only can you petition for a broader range of relatives, you will also experience shorter or no wait times for these relatives.

Citizenship for your children. Becoming a naturalized citizen automatically comes with citizenship for your unmarried children who are under 18, as long as they are lawful permanent residents and live in the U.S. under your legal and physical custody. And, once you’re a citizen, any new children are automatically citizens, in most cases, even those born abroad.

Access to new job opportunities. There are numerous federal, state and local jobs that require citizenship, and naturalized citizenship counts. Additionally, citizens can serve as officers in the U.S. military, while non-citizens cannot.

Qualifying for more public benefits, including retirement benefits. Even though all legal immigrant workers pay into Social Security, there is at least one situation where lawful permanent residents can miss out – retiring abroad. As a citizen, you can retire abroad and still retain your Social Security benefits. Moreover, you can participate in public benefits programs without threatening your immigration status or prospects.

Qualifying for more student financial aid. There are more scholarships and other financial aid options available to U.S. citizens, including government-backed student loans and grants.

Tax and estate benefits. There are some situations where even lawful permanent residents are not treated the same as citizens for tax and estate purposes. You can avoid complications by becoming a U.S. citizen.

Sound good? If it does, get started on your naturalization petition today. Contact Yew Immigration Law Group today to discuss your eligibility to become a naturalized citizen in the U.S.