Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration attorney, practicing law here in St. Louis, Missouri. Today’s video, we’re going to discuss why you need to take advantage of an immigration benefit, why it’s so important to not just rest at whatever immigration level you’re at, and why you should always keep your eye on the citizenship prize.
You’ll recall there’s a hierarchy in immigration. The gold standard is citizenship because for citizens, they can vote. They can participate in American society. They can run for office. They can do everything that any other person in America who is a citizen can do. You can’t be deported when you’re a citizen. You can’t have your citizenship revoked. You get a US passport. These are the benefits of citizenship.
Beneath that is lawful permanent residents. That’s a Green Card holder. These are people who can stay in the United States forever as long as they maintain their valid lawful permanent residence status and don’t do anything to put that status in peril.
Beneath that are people here on different kinds of visas. There’s people here on immigrant visas who are going to stay in the United States and hopefully get a Green Card. Then there’s people who are here on non-immigrant visas who are either visiting or working or traveling. You always want to make sure that if an immigration benefit is available to you, that you take advantage of it and you move up that rank towards citizenship. The goal should always be towards citizenship if that’s your long-term plan to stay in the United States.
We want to talk about the 3 reasons why it’s important to do that, why it’s important to move along the line. The first is priority. If you are here and you are here as a visitor, you’re obviously have no priority in sponsoring other people to come to the United States. If you have the opportunity to get a job or to have a family member sponsor you for a Green Card or an employer sponsor you for a Green Card, you want to make that jump from visa holder to lawful permanent resident.
Lawful permanent residents have greater priority in sponsoring people. They can sponsor their spouses to come to the United States. They can sponsor their children to come to the United States. You always want to make that jump because it gives you greater priority.
By the same token, if citizenship becomes available, if you’ve had your green card for 5 years or if you married a US citizen and you’ve had it for 3 years, then you can make that jump from Green Card holder to citizen.
When you’re a citizen, the world opens up as far as priority in sponsorship. At that stage, you can sponsor your parents to come to the United States. You can sponsor your siblings. These are things that are not necessarily available to Green Card holders and you need to keep that in mind. Priority is one of the main reasons. That you’re going to have greater priority when you move to citizenship.
The next thing to keep in mind is security. We want to emphasize that always working towards citizenship is a good idea on the security front because like I said earlier, you can’t be deported. Until you become a US citizen, you may think that you’re here walking around, living your life like everybody else, but if you commit a crime or get in trouble or if you stay out of the country for too long, you can lose your status as a Green Card holder and you lose that security.
Now, listen, a lot of people come to the United States, they build lives, they work very hard, and it’s a real shame when that security of being here with their family members, being here with their loved ones, when that security comes at risk because of a mistake that they’ve made or because of an overstay outside of the country. We really don’t want to see that happen. We don’t want to lose that security. At every juncture, if we can move you up and get you closer to citizenship, we’re going to urge you to do that.
The last piece, prosperity. It’s sort of cliché to talk about the American dream, to talk about why America is so much better than everybody else, every other country. The fact of the matter is that if you hustle and if you work hard in America, you’re going to be able to prosper and do well economically like nowhere else in the world. No other country offers the opportunities that America has to start a business, to build a business, to build a life, to make good money in the United States.
If your immigration status isn’t secure, if you are at risk or you’re worried about your immigration status, these are things that can cut down on your prosperity. Obviously, if you’re in the United States, you’re making a good living and you get deported, your prosperity is going to take a severe hit.
Those are the 3 issues, the 3 reasons why we’re always encouraging our clients to take the next immigration benefit, to move up that ladder. If you have questions about this or if you’re interested in taking steps towards securing your future in the United States, please feel free to give us a call, 314-961-8200, or you can email us, [email protected] Thanks a lot.