Living in the U.S. on a visa can feel temporary. You run the risk of your visa expiring. A criminal conviction could also potentially lead to removal or deportation for those in the country on visas.

Becoming a lawful permanent resident or Green Card holder is clearly a step up from simply holding a visa. A Green Card allows you to stay in the U.S. for the rest of your life, provided that you don’t have serious legal issues in the future. Given that a Green Card allows you to legally stay and work in the U.S., why would you want to go through the extra steps of naturalization to become a citizen?

Naturalization gives you more rights as an individual

Permanent residents can live and work in communities across the U.S. They can own houses and even start businesses. However, they can’t vote, and they can’t run for office. There may be kinds of public assistance that they don’t qualify for.

Becoming a naturalized citizen entitles you to the same rights as a natural-born citizen. You have the right to vote in every election. You can even choose to run for public office yourself.

Naturalization makes it easier to help your family

Lawful permanent residents with a Green Card can apply for spouses and unmarried children in their family to enter the U.S. However, these programs have strict limits. Citizens can support the immigration of more family members, including parents and siblings. There are also fewer restrictions on family-based immigration for citizens than residents.

Looking at your life and your hopes carefully with an immigration attorney can help you determine if naturalization is a good choice for you.