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The Fringe Benefits of U.S. Citizenship

Many immigrants to the United States will eventually choose to become U.S. citizens. The well-known benefits of citizenship include the right to vote in U.S. elections, to travel with a U.S. passport, the ability to file immigration petitions for family members, and the security of knowing that you can never be deported. These are major benefits in themselves, but they are not the only reasons someone should choose citizenship.

Research shows that immigrants who become citizens are more likely to work in high-wage sectors of the economy, develop better English skills, and are more successful in finding opportunities for education and job skills development. In fact, in recent years naturalized citizens were shown to earn between 50% and 70% more than noncitizen immigrants.

Over the period of a lifetime, the economic benefit of becoming a U.S. citizen can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the lifetime earnings of a noncitizen. And that is just half the story. Economists are nearly unanimous in the view that higher citizenship rates boost the economy overall, benefiting the whole community, native-born citizens and newcomers alike.