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Green card holders told to become US citizens

world Updated: May 28, 2011 01:37 IST

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US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has launched a campaign emphasising the benefits of being a US citizen with the goal of convincing more than seven million Green Card holders to become naturalised.

"It's very important for people who are already permanent residents to consider citizenship for all the benefits that that will bring them," Mariana Gitomer, the USCIS spokesperson in Los Angeles, told EFE.

Gitomer said that, according to the government's database, there are about 12.5 million permanent residents in the US, of whom 7.9 million are already eligible to get US citizenship, the majority of them being Hispanics.

In California alone, there are approximately three million people who obtained Green Cards more than five years ago.

"There are many reasons why people don't become citizens, some people don't know the benefits and feel that if they already have a residence card they can work, they can travel, then they feel they don't need citizenship," said Gitomer.

"But citizenship gives them the benefit of voting, obtaining a US passport to travel without restrictions, obtain better jobs," she said, citing studies that show that people who become citizens began to earn more money.