Many lawful permanent resident/Green Card holders residing in the United States have decided, for many reasons, not to apply for U.S. citizenship, even though they are eligible to do so. This decision can have consequences in the long run that many Green Card holders are unaware of, including possible deportation.
Our immigration attorneys in Los Angeles have many clients who are eligible to apply for U.S. Naturalization and become U.S. citizens but choose not do for a variety of reasons. We have found that individuals who decide not to apply for naturalization on Form N-400 do so for a number of reasons:
Cultural pride: many permanent residents of the United States have a strong believe that becoming a United States citizen can be a form of betrayal of the individual’s culture and original heritage.
Lack of knowledge of laws: many Green Card holders are unaware of what different legal immigrant statuses mean. Many people are simply unaware of when they can even apply for U.S. citizenship.
Stubbornness: Some people read about the process for naturalization and get intimidated or do not want to pay the current fee of $680 and decide to remain Green Card holders.
Our Los Angeles immigration lawyers encourage our clients to apply for naturalization to become a United States citizen for one very good reason – if a person is not a U.S. citizen, he or she is technically at risk of deportation at any time. A citizen of the United States cannot be deported if he or she is charged with a crime, whereas a Green Card holder who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time could face deportation, depending on the crime he or she is convicted of.
Many lawful permanent residents who obey the law at all times feel that they are not at risk or any danger of being deported, so this situation does not apply to them; however, you never know and anyone can have a stroke of bad luck.
In a recent case of ours, an eligible individual who had not previously filed for naturalization, was arrested for an offense that carries jail time. The individual chose to take a plea deal rather than risk a trial, which is an admission of guilt under immigration law. This admission of guilt is seen the same as a conviction and triggered an automatic deportation proceeding against him. If he had became a citizen prior to this arrest, he would not have been subject to deportation.
If you or a family member are interested in finding out more about applying for U.S. citizenship, or deportation problems, contact our immigration attorney for a FREE consultation now.