While applying for U.S. citizenship is the last step in a long immigration process that spans several years, sometimes decades, there are many benefits that make it worth obtaining. Keep in mind, though, that U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) reviews all documents that you ever submitted to the U.S. government about yourself, including your very first tourist visa application from decades earlier.
Accordingly, you need to be certain that nothing in your entire record will conflict with something elsewhere in it. Regrettably, that happens too often. Sometimes it's a mistake as innocent as saying in one part of your record that you gave up your membership in an organization while saying elsewhere that you never joined the organization in the first place. Such a subtle difference in two statements has caused major problems for people as it amounts to misrepresentation, and USCIS does not want to give citizenship to people who aren't truthful. After all, possessing good moral character is a requirement of becoming a U.S. citizen. False/conflicting statements justifiably cause major headaches for applicants. Not only may you not wind up with U.S. citizenship (or wait several stressful years to receive it), but you could even lose your permanent resident status and be ordered removed from the U.S., unable to return. (Yes, you read that right.)
Additionally, most people don't realize that unlike other immigration applications, you cannot withdraw a Naturalization application without the government's permission. Once you file the application, USCIS is going to begin digging through your history not only to see whether you should obtain U.S. citizenship, but whether you should be stripped of your permanent residence because you somehow messed up since initially obtaining it.
So you can land yourself in really hot water quickly by indiscriminately filing a Naturalization application, and too many people have done just that. In addition, you should give serious thought to whether you should become a dual citizen, if your country allows it. (Read my blog post, USA Turns Blind Eye to Dual Citizenship.)
Despite the problems to dance your way around, U.S. citizenship is a benefit that you should strongly consider obtaining if you're eligible for it. Consult an immigration lawyer to confirm that it's indeed in your best interest to apply.
The 14 Benefits of Becoming a U.S. Citizen:
1. Apply for and bear a U.S. passport, one of the most coveted and versatile passports in the world. (While you do not need your U.S. passport to leave the U.S., you need it to return via aircraft).
2. Automatically confer derivative U.S. citizenship upon your children, even those born outside of the U.S. or its territories.
3. Petition for additional types of relatives to immigrate to the U.S., including your parents, married sons and daughters over the age of 21, and your brothers and sisters.
4. Run for public office.
5. Remain abroad for as long as you desire without losing your ability to return and live in the U.S.
6. Vote in all elections, including U.S. federal elections.
7. Apply for certain types of federal employment that require U.S. citizenship.
8. Enjoy more convenient re-entry to the U.S., with dedicated U.S. citizen lines especially with trusted traveler programs such as Global Entry.
9. Earn various federal benefits which are not available to U.S. permanent residents (federal grants, scholarships, and other government benefits).
10. Accept plea deals in court if necessary without having to be concerned about their effect upon your ability to remain in the U.S. Sometimes, Lawful Permanent Residents cannot accept a plea deal because they would be removed from the U.S. if they did. This forces them to spend tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, paying criminal lawyers.
11. Complete immunity from Removal (i.e deportation from the U.S.).
12. Live without having to deal with the overworked and slow federal agencies, USCIS and the Immigration Courts, i.e. EOIR, ever again.
13. Preferential treatment under U.S. tax law when real estate is being devised to your U.S. citizen spouse.
14. Serve on a jury.
Speak with a U.S. immigration lawyer about planning your transition to U.S. citizenship, retaining your prior citizenship thereafter if permissible, and the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. I counsel many clients against applying for U.S. citizenship depending on which citizenships they would be losing.
Use an immigration lawyer to prevent your Naturalization application from being held in an indefinite abeyance which can last for several years versus a few months. That's no fun. Call +1(888)354-6257 for legal assistance that you may need.