Benefits of having legal residency in the USA
Legal residency is one of the many privileges that are enjoyed by Green Card Holders of the United States. Having a green card also puts you on the track of becoming a contributing citizen of the country. Green card holders can stay and work in the States indefinitely, as long as they are renewing their green cards every few years. However, an expired green card does not mean that you have lost your green card status. You would not be able to travel and potentially work. Legal residency in the United States comes with its own set of benefits. We have compiled a list of all the benefits that are received by the legal residents.
If you have recently become a legal resident or if you are in the process of obtaining legal residency in the United States, then this is the list for you.
The US citizenship route
One of the biggest benefits of having legal residency is that one can apply to become a rightful citizen of the country. After five years, green card holders with legal residency can officially apply to become US citizens. If the individual is married, then the period is reduced to three years.
2. Sponsoring certain relatives for visas or green cards
Green card holders can sponsor their immediate family members, which means their family members can stay with them for a longer period. Green card holders can only petition their spouses, children under 21 years old and unmarried adult children. Depending on the category, one may have to wait until their priority date is available before the family members would be able to immigrate. It becomes easier for the person’s family to settle with them in the USA. Having legal residency also makes it easier for your extended family member to apply and get approved for a visa.
3. Social Security benefits
Legal residents can also enjoy the social security benefit provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Social security benefits are mostly offered to the disabled and the retired people in the USA to ensure the financial well-being of them and their family members. Around 25% of American families are dependent on the benefits they get from the SSA. The assistance and benefits range from monetary help to childcare assistance. Medical assistance and food also come under these benefits. This egalitarian philanthropy is fuelled by the taxes that are collected from the pay checks of residents of the country. A green holder who has more than 10 years of work experience can apply for these benefits once they retire.
4. Better for career growth
The legal residents are provided with better career opportunities since they can travel within the country and work anywhere they want to, without any hassle. While the immigrants will have to depend on their employer to sponsor their visas and provide all the paperwork for Employment Authorization Document (EAD), legal residents get a free pass, since the green card itself provides that right. This also means that you can easily change jobs and select the one to your liking, but that might not be the case for the visa holders.
5. Making financial contributions to US elections
Being active politically is a virtue in America. The right to vote, however, can only be enforced by natural-born Americans or the citizens that have been naturalized. While green card holders cannot vote, they can make their voices heard. Legal residents with green cards can donate money to the political party of their choice. Contributing to one’s chosen party is one of the ways the legal residents can voice their concerns regarding matters that are important to them. No such privilege is provided to the visa holders.
6. Spending less on education
We all know that education in the United States is a costly affair. But did you know that international students are often charged 50% more in tuition fees per year? The cost of this financial burden is lessened for green card holders. As legal residents, individuals are considered to be in-state residents and are charged the same amount of fee as any other American. The Green card holders are also eligible to apply for various financial aid that may be offered by the government. These financial aids can put a dent on those exorbitant tuition fees.
7. Traveling within/outside the country becomes easier
Traveling within the States becomes cumbersome with a temporary or student visa. The green card makes it easy for Green card holders to travel not only within the country but also helps with traveling out of the US. Thanks to the permanent legal status of the green card holders, US immigration is required to admit them within the country. That is why one must also keep their green card up to date and renew it when necessary.
Green cards can be obtained in multiple ways: (1) be petitioned by a spouse, parent, or child; (2) sponsored by an employer; (3) win the diversity lottery; (4) u-visa; (5) T-Visa; (6) VAWA; and more. Legal residency status also helps with traveling, but the individual must make sure that they do not stay outside of the US for more than six months. If it happens, the US immigration services may question your motive of becoming a US citizen and might delay granting your citizenship. That said, the benefits far outweigh the effort that goes into getting and maintaining a green card.
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