The Benefits of Citizenship

Murali Bashyam: Good morning.  My name is Murali Bashyam.  I’m a partner with the law firm of Bashyam Spiro, and I’m here with Ame Coats, who is senior counsel with our firm.

Ame Coats: Good morning everybody.

Murali Bashyam: And we handle corporate and family immigration law in all 50 states and around the world.  And Ame and I are here today to discuss to the road to citizenship.

Ame Coats: Today, we’re gonna go through just the basics of citizenship, really, what the benefits are, the requirements for most folks, the English and Civics test; we get a lot of questions on that, and, also, just general application interview and post procedures.  As far as the benefits of citizenship, everyone knows about the right to vote.  Also, for some folks, it’s very important for them to be able to sponsor certain relatives to come to the U.S.

So, for example, only U.S. citizens can sponsor their brothers or sisters.  It takes a really long time, so the sooner you become a citizen, the sooner you’re able to start that process for a brother or sister.

Murali Bashyam: How about sponsoring parents, Ame?

Ame Coats: Also the same situation there.  And even when you’re a permanent resident, just to sponsor your spouse and your children takes anywhere from three to four, sometimes even five years or more.

Murali Bashyam: So if you’re a U.S. citizen sponsoring your spouse, it’s much quicker, right?

Ame Coats: Right.  That’s exactly right.  Also, I see a lot of folks who are permanent residents, and, really, in their perfect world, they like to spend maybe six months here and six months back in their home country, or even maybe a little longer in their home country.  But when you’re a permanent resident, you risk abandoning your residency and losing your green card if you spend too much time out of the United States.  So once you become a U.S. citizen, you don’t risk losing your immigration status anymore.

Murali Bashyam: Is there any way of losing a citizenship?

Ame Coats: Well, you can be denaturalized.  Like, for example, I think the most common example there is, for example, Nazi war criminals, there have been a number of those who  immigrated to the U.S. and got their citizenship.  And then some of those got caught and have been stripped of their U.S. citizenship and sent back to Germany for trial.

One thing that you should keep in mind, though, when you get your citizenship is that you may lose your citizenship in your home country or another country.  I mean I’ve met people before who had citizenship in not just one other country, but two.  And it used to be that if you became a U.S. citizen, you automatically lost your citizenship to other countries; the U.S., at one point, did not recognize those citizenships.  But they’ve changed that a while back.  So, for example, Murali was not born in the United States, he was born in Canada.  So Murali, what’s your situation?

Murali Bashyam: Well, you know, it’s complicated,  [laughter], as is the case of most of these situations.  But I would consider myself to dual citizen.  I think the way laws are now, Canada recognizes that and so does the United States.  So I don’t lose my Canadian citizenship because I became a U.S. citizen in the U.S. a very long time ago.  However, people ask the question all the time, “Can I travel on my Canadian passport?”  That’s a more complicated question, – you just have to check with the embassy in the country where you were born.

Ame Coats: You know you can contact your home country’s embassy in D.C. and figure out whether or not you are eligible for dual citizenship, whether or not they recognize it.  And if they do, then you don’t have to turn in your passport.  But if your home country doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, then you need to contact them and figure out what you need to do to return it.

Murali Bashyam: Thank you Ame.  If we did not answer any of your questions, please do feel free to contact either me or Ame.  Our e-mail address and telephone number are on your screen right now.  I do encourage you to visit our media library and do connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.  We will have a webinar coming up next month on what to do about changing jobs during a permanent residency process and how that impacts the process.  Thanks everyone for joining in today.  We hope you have a great day.

Ame Coats: Thank you.

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