Integration Institute: Citizenship
MIRA believes that attaining citizenship is the best measure of an immigrant's successful integration into the United States. As such, we advocate for increased state and federal funding so that our members and allies have the resources they need to provide citizenship services—including ESOL and civics classes—to their populations. As part of the leadership of the National Partnership for New Americans, MIRA is helping drive a national campaign to reduce high naturalization fees, which remain one of the greatest barriers to naturalization.
We also promote citizenship at the grass roots level through participation in naturalization clinics sponsored by the Greater Boston Citizenship Initiative (GBCI) in the greater Boston area and the Become a Citizen Now! Massachusetts campaign across the state. The Institute has recently published a research paper—Overcoming Obstacles to Citizenship: How Group Processing Can Better Serve Immigrant Communities—based on an analysis of administrative records from GBCI naturalization clinics and a survey of naturalization applicants.
Benefits of Citizenship
Becoming a naturalized citizen marks the full transition of an immigrant into American society. While immigrants and refugees keep their languages and traditions that make this country so culturally rich, becoming a citizen means they will be able to more fully participate in our political, social, and economic life.What are the benefits?
- Right to Immigrate Family Members — A U.S. citizen can sponsor a wider number of family members to come to the U.S. and the waiting time for them to receive a visa is faster than for the relatives of permanent residents.
- Derivative Citizenship for Children — When a permanent resident naturalizes, his or her children under age 18 may automatically become U.S. citizens by derivation. There are certain requirements to qualify for derivative citizenship.
- Full Civic Participation — A U.S. citizen has the right to vote in national, state, and local elections; to run for elected office; and to serve on a jury.
- More Employment and Educational Opportunities — Many federal, state, and local government jobs, as well as certain scholarships for higher education, require U.S. citizenship.
- Travel Benefits — A U.S. citizen can travel outside the U.S. for unlimited periods of time and re-enter freely.
- Public Benefits — A U.S. citizen can receive public benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid without the restrictions imposed on non-citizens.
- Protection from Deportation — A U.S. citizen, unlike a lawful permanent resident, cannot be deported.