Immigrants in the United States can get all the benefits of being an American citizen through naturalization. But it’s not that easy to turn your back on your home country forever. After all, most immigrants went to the U.S. thinking only of working. Typically, their original plan is to save enough, and either petition their family members to the States or go back home and happily retire there.
Even if they petition their family members to the States, they don’t always plan to settle in the country for good. Some would only like to live with their family until they’re stable enough to fly back home. Considering that, what should you do if you’ve been working in the U.S. for a while now? Surely, the idea of staying has occurred to you more than once. But can you really strip off your original citizenship?
Below are the things to consider before getting naturalized:
1. Your Long Term Plans
Getting naturalized will give you the rights of every lawful American. You can vote, reunite with your family and protect their rights to stay in the U.S., get legal protection from illegal activity, travel to other countries easier, and more. Of course, these all sound like great reasons to be naturalized. But if naturalization could affect your long-term plans, step back and do more thinking.
For example, if you plan to have a family someday, what kind of life do you want to give them? While the U.S. is a good place to raise a family, the costs of raising children can be so high. The latest report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture says it costs an average of $233,610 to do so. But that was in 2015. Taking inflation into account, the costs blow up to $267,233, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If you see yourself making that much money in the future, then perhaps naturalization is for you. Otherwise, perhaps it’s more cost-efficient to start a family in your home country if the costs are lower there.
2. Your Financial Stability
Many people from developing countries work or migrate to the U.S. for financial benefit. But working in the U.S. doesn’t automatically make you wealthy. The wages may be hefty, but the costs of living can exhaust them quickly.
Mississippi is the cheapest place to live. Housing there costs only around $128,000, while rent for a two-bedroom apartment is just $746. The average living wage is about $46,000.
If you work in California, the daily expenses can break the bank — the state has the third-highest cost of living index of 138.5. That means transportation, gas, housing, and rent are relatively pricier there compared to Mississippi. To afford a comfortable life in California, you have to make at least $57,000.
If you’d really like to live in the U.S., but still have the freedom to return to your home country, talk to an experienced immigration lawyer about your options. Instead of naturalization, maybe you can get a Green Card or permanent residency status. That way, you won’t go through laborious paperwork in case you suddenly decide to stop living in the U.S.
3. Your Family Back Home
Immigrants in the U.S. usually petition their spouse and children below 21 years old to the U.S. over time. Your spouse would probably love to join you, but the kids might get conflicted.
When you ask your kids to move into a different home, you’re also asking them to leave everything they’ve known behind. They’d be taken away from their school and friends, both of which they most likely value the most in their life. As much as they’d love to be with you, kids are also attached to the life they have, especially if they’re teenagers.
In this scenario, it’s best to give it some time before deciding for them. When your kids are ready to go to college, perhaps they’d be more willing to migrate and start a new chapter in their lives.
4. Dual Citizenship
Some countries allow dual citizenship. It’s a legal status that allows you to carry two different passports. It has compelling benefits, such as the freedom to work and live in two different countries, own property in both countries, and travel between those countries without hassle.
This can be a sound option if you and your family back home have contrasting long-term plans. As a dual citizen, you can move back to your home country without complicating things for your visa sponsor. However, dual citizenship might come with double taxation, dual obligations, and employment obstacles. So carefully think this through, and, again, seek the advice of an immigration lawyer.
Getting naturalized is a remarkable milestone, but it’s not the only way to enjoy your life in the U.S. Go for it only if you can abide by all the U.S. laws and adopt American values.