If you're a permanent resident of the United States, you can file for U.S. citizenship through the USCIS fairly easily (barring any complications like a criminal conviction). The cost is relatively low and the benefits are great, as you can see below.
The advantages of becoming a U.S. citizen over a permanent resident are many. Here are the top ten.
1. No Need To Renew Your Green Card. As a United States citizen you will not need to renew your green card every 10 years. In addition, you will no longer be required to carry your green card with you.
2. The Risk of Removal (Deportation) is Reduced. Green Card holders may be removed for committing certain crimes. A U.S. citizen who commits a crime cannot be deported.
However, you should always be aware that U.S. citizenship may be taken away from you if USCIS finds that you lied to obtain either lawful permanent residence or your U.S. citizenship.
3. Easier Travel and Re-Entry into the U.S. You will no longer have to deal with the longer lines reserved for green card holders. In addition, as a U.S. citizen you can have easier entry into other countries. In many instances, you can visit foreign countries without a visa.
4. Ability to Take Long Trips Outside the United States. You will be allowed to take long trips out of the United States without the risk of losing your ability to return.
If you leave the United States for more than 180 days, then you, as a permanent resident, can lose your green card upon re-entry into the United States. The immigration officer can deem that you have abandoned your green card. If you know you are leaving the United States for more than 6 months you should speak to an immigration attorney. You may be able to obtain a re-entry permit prior to leaving the United States. This would allow you to travel out of the United States for as long as 2 years without abandoning your green card.
5. Ability to Petition More Family Members. United States citizens can petition more types of family members into the United States than green card holders. Only U.S. citizens may petition parents, siblings, and married children. In addition, in the cases where both U.S. citizens and green card holders may do a petition (such as for spouses), the wait time is generally significantly shorter for U.S. citizens' relations. (If you wish to petition a family member, please consult with a competent immigration attorney before taking any action.)
6. Ability of Your Green-Card-Holding Children to Become U.S. Citizens. When you become a U.S. citizen, your unmarried children under 18 will automatically become U.S. citizens, too. However, they must meet the following criteria: They must be lawful permanent residents; they must be residing in the United States; and they must be in the legal and physical custody of the naturalizing parent.
7. Ability to Vote and to Run for Public Office. Only United States citizens may vote. Naturalized U.S. citizens can run for most elected public offices.
8. Ability to Obtain Federal Jobs, Grants, and Other Government Benefits. Certain jobs require U.S. citizenship. These include many local, state, and federal government jobs. Many federal grants and scholarships are available only to U.S. citizens.
9. Tax and Estate Reasons. United States citizens and permanent residents are not always treated the same for tax and estate purposes. You should speak to a Certified Public Accountant about these issues.
10. Ability to Obtain a U.S. Passport. U.S. citizens have the right to obtain a passport and the ability to obtain assistance from U.S. Embassies and Consulates when traveling in other countries.
If you meet the legal requirements, and don’t have any complications, becoming a U.S. citizen is a fairly straightforward process. You start by filing the N-400 application and paying the fee ($640 as of 2017).
You’ll then be scheduled an appointment for fingerprinting and background check. If all goes well, you’ll interview with a USCIS official and take an English and civics test.
The final step is the Oath Ceremony where you will receive your certificate of naturalization.