To renew or to naturalize? That is the question
When immigrants are hard at work in an effort to send money home to their loved ones, they may suddenly realize that this is the year their permanent residency cards expires. But before immigrants take the steps necessary to renew, immigration and legal experts say it may be in their' best interest to think about their status and whether it's worth their while to naturalize.
In a special for the Hagatna Guam News, attorney Catherine Bejerana Camacho offered a few pieces of advice immigrants should consider that will help them make a more informed decision.
For starters, before immigrants can even think about naturalization, they should first make sure they qualify. For instance, if permanent residents have only been in the U.S. for two years, they're not eligible to fill out a naturalization application.
However, there are some instances in which immigrants are obligated to fill out a naturalization application. This includes those who have a 10-year permanent resident card that will expire this year. If immigrants don't get this taken care of, they may be prevented from traveling by customs enforcement officers, the source indicates.
Something else immigrants should take under advisement is if there are any conditions in which remaining a permanent citizen is in their best interest. For example, Camacho offers the example of someone who may have filed a petition on behalf of their son or daughter who's living in another country to become a resident in the U.S. By filling out the necessary paperwork to become a citizen, Camacho says they could affect their child's visa category, which could potentially lead to problems down the road, such as a visa taking longer.
Another reason why immigrants may want to renew their permanent residency rather than naturalizing is if they have business interests in their home country. By becoming a legal citizen of the U.S., they may jeopardize their ownership back home, according to Camacho.
Finally, Camacho reminds immigrants to make sure they had any run-ins with the law, as criminal records will likely hurt their chances of their naturalization application being approved.
If all of these scenarios check out, immigration experts say naturalization is typically better than staying a permanent resident. However, individual circumstances vary, which is why Camacho recommends immigrants consult with an expert before deciding.