Philippine Passport[box type=”default” size=”large”] There’s no time limit for travel abroad of US citizens [/box]In our past articles, we have explored some of the lesser-known benefits of citizenships for the elderly, disabled, and young families.

In this article, we look at some of the immigration and travel benefits of being a U.S. citizen. 

A permanent resident can petition for only a select group of family members to join him/her in the United States — spouse and unmarried children, including those over 21 years old. In the case of US citizens, they can petition for significantly more family members — spouse, parents, child, unmarried sons and daughters, and siblings. 

Susan Reed, supervising attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC), says now is a critical time to file those petitions, even though in some categories there are long waits due to the limited number of family-based visas available.

“If there is an immigration reform law in the next few years, it will probably include changes in the family-based immigration system. No one knows exactly what a new law would look like, but most bills that have been introduced in the past include special consideration for those who have already filed a petition. So, the long wait could get much shorter for those who have already applied.” 

Furthermore, says Reed, there are proposals to eliminate categories altogether, such as siblings. If that were to happen with immigration reform, it is likely that those already waiting would still be able to immigrate but no new petitions would be accepted. 

Additionally, while there are often long wait time for a visa to become available in some of the family-based categories, US citizens can immediately petition for their parents, spouse, and children (under 21 years old) to join them in the United States. The paperwork takes some time to process but a green card is otherwise immediately available, so no extra waiting is involved. 

On travel, a US passport may be one of the best benefits to citizens who travel abroad.

First, there is no limitation on the length of the travels they may want to take.

As a permanent resident, you can generally travel outside the United States only for up to six months at a time or else risk being denied entry back into the country.

US citizens, by contrast, can travel indefinitely outside the United States and are welcomed upon their return, sometimes with some questions if the travel is exceptionally long.

Second, if there is civil unrest, natural disaster, or an emergency need for consular services abroad, a US citizen avails himself/herself of assistance and coverage in countries, large and small.

Third, for US citizens who are looking forward to retire abroad, they can cut down on the need to routinely travel back and forth to the United States for fear of losing their residency. Obviously, it is also be easier to visit grandchildren and other family members and friend as a returning citizen. 

MIRC, in partnership with the New Americans Campaign, offers free naturalization screenings, application preparation, and ESL/civics education throughout Southeast Michigan, including fee waivers. MIRC will be hosting several free naturalization information sessions and workshops in metro Detroit to be conducted by licensed attorneys and accredited representatives over the coming months.  

For more information and/or to sign up, readers are asked to visit www.michiganimmigrant.org or call (734) 998-6100 x459. 

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