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Millions of legal immigrants choose to skip U.S. citizenship

Readers in North Carolina who are familiar with immigration issues may be surprised to learn that not all immigrants who can pursue legal status choose to do so. According to reports, an estimated eight million-plus people meet the eligibility requirements for U.S. citizenship. A large number of them have not given any indication that changing their status is something they are attempting to pursue.

The reasons listed can be as varied as the nationalities of the people they represent. Some say the cost is prohibitive. Expenses can reach hundreds of dollars, which may be out of reach for some budgets. Others are concerned that their English speaking skills are not up to par. They may fear that they cannot communicate well enough to successfully complete a citizenship test.

Immigration advocates say there is a definite advantage in securing citizenship over a status of permanent legal resident. Although permanent residents do reap some benefits, like the ability to work legally, there are added bonuses to citizenship. Not all of them apply without that status.

Naturalized citizens, whether in North Carolina or anywhere else, can take advantage of the many benefits that are available to everyone with U.S. citizenship. They can vote. They cannot be deported. The list goes on and on.

Recent research indicates that about one-third of the people who list Mexico as their country of origin go on to achieve U.S. citizenship. That number drops even more when it includes other nationalities. For those who are wavering about which direction to take, a good understanding of their options and any resulting consequences could help them make their final decision.

Source: Heartland Connection, "Millions of legal immigrants skipping U.S. citizenship", Mona Shand, May 8, 2014

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