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  #1  
Old 03-04-2011, 08:27 AM
StuckInTheMuck StuckInTheMuck is offline
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Default Life after Green card: towards citizenship - some thoughts

[I am an Indian, so what I say below is decidedly biased towards India, but anyone from another country who has a green card and will be eligible for US citizenship soon, and especially those whose home country does not allow dual citizenship, may find the topic relevant.]

Entering 3rd year of our PR-ship (we received green card on March 2, 2009), and being from India - a country that does not allow dual citizenship - I have been thinking of the pros and cons of applying for US citizenship in another 3 years time, which would force me to give up my Indian citizenship. (I am deliberately avoiding the word "passport" - you exchange more than a passport when you switch citizenship.)

No doubt USA offers better career opportunities and comfortable lifestyle today to most of us than in our home countries - indeed that is why we chose to come here in the first place - but what about the future? I thought yesterday's Times blog by Fareed Zakaria makes a good case for concern on this issue, and I would like to have your informed thoughts.

Do not get me wrong, despite its flaws - and what country does not have flaws - I think America remains a great place to live and raise our children (I have not had a reason to think differently in the 11+ yrs I have been here, but others may disagree based on their experiences). But so is India. Had this not been so, my choice would have been easier.

Of course real differences exist. As Zakaria points out, if/when India's GDP becomes comparable to USA's, average income in India would still be one-fourth that of an average American (given that when this happens, population size in India will be about 4 times that in America). But the Indian greatness I am thinking of is more than whether you can get a starbucks from the street corner: I was born and brought up in that culture, and the connection is deeply personal.

On a practical level, the question boils down to the differences in having green card vs. having US citizenship. The green card gives a relative security and stability to our legal status in this country, and eases re-entry procedure across its borders. The US citizenship will make this security more permanent, not to mention giving us voting and other rights to help integrate more with the society. But these differences have little impact on our day-to-day living here. Are they enough to renounce my Indian citizenship?

To many, it does make sense to become a citizen of the country we plan to settle down in for a long time. This takes on a degree of urgency on the aftermath of events similar to 9/11, when even the legal PRs feel threatened that their rights and privacy may be limited or violated, and we saw a big surge in applications for US citizenship in the years immediately following 9/11.

Besides, Indian expats here may feel giving up Indian citizenship has merely a symbolic impact on our life in India. The most we do is stand in the "foreign passport holder" line at the Indian immigration checkposts, but nothing feels different once we step in on Indian soil. But is it that simple? What if I decide to go back and settle down in India in 20-30 yrs, say after retirement? What rights, in terms of owning property, investing, voting, or in any other way of actively involving with the Indian community around me, would I have as an OCI (Overseas Citizen of India)?

I understand all this is years in the future, and no one knows what will happen that far ahead. The whole issue will be moot anyway if by then India decides to allow dual citizenship. But we need to plan and act now, in my case in the next 3 yrs. So, please share your thoughts, whether you have recently obtained US citizenship, or you are like me and nearing citizenship eligibility, or you are continuing on PR-ship years after eligibility.

Thanks a bunch for reading this,
Stuck(no more)InTheMuck
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  #2  
Old 03-04-2011, 09:53 AM
mnkaushik mnkaushik is offline
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Default My take - US Citizenship is better than GC for going back to India

My take is US Citizenship is better than GC for going back to India.


OCI gives you all the rights other than voting or owning farm lands. If you think being in India, you need to be part of the poilitical system and it is important for you to make your vote count then this will be an issue. I am guessing most of us have never owned a farm land and will not plan to do it in future.

I dont know whether you can invest in PPF, i am guessing not since an NRI cannot invest in PPF. If your kids get their education in India, i think it you might have to pay at par with NRI quota and they might not be able to get into Government colleges. It would affect only higher education. I have not really looked into it but I would suggest you should.

US Citizenship gives you the flexibility to be out of the country for however long you want and come back to US. Your kids may decided that they want to live in the US and it just makes it easier for you to move between India and US.
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  #3  
Old 03-04-2011, 10:15 AM
dingox100 dingox100 is offline
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Default life after GC, citizenship

This what the problem with our way of thinking . read below

If a person comes on L1 , the thinks about how to get H1
once he/she gets H1 then he thinks how to find a company who can apply for GC. He/she gets a company who can sponser GC they join them and apply for GC.
Once GC is started we think whether Labour will be cleared or not
If labour cleared we rush to apply for 140 and think whether will it be cleard or not
then comes 485 fear.. check visa bulletin every month from 1st till 11 till we see the bulletin and get dejected
and when 485 fiasco that happend in july 2007 happens then we start worrying about EAD, AP etc.

and finally when GC comes we fear about Citizenship.. when we get Citizenship and we are alomost at the retirement age we think whether we shld be here or in India .. common guys dont do too much math.. life is short.. we never know whether you will be alive tommrrow. So chill out and enjoy today!!! ....this is my 2 cents
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  #4  
Old 03-04-2011, 11:25 AM
imh1b imh1b is offline
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Default

If you become US citizen and go back to India. Can you take social security retirement benefits in old age?
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  #5  
Old 03-04-2011, 11:57 AM
StuckInTheMuck StuckInTheMuck is offline
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Default

Good point, mnkaushik. It is true that going back as a US citizen would keep the US border open to come and go whenever I please, and this is a big plus because our only daughter is US-born, and more likely to settle here than in India when she grows up (she turns 7 next week). So, score +1 for US citizenship. Thanks!

This still needs to be weighed against what I lose within India as an OCI vs "BCI" (Born Citizen of India). I do not know much about what the restrictions are about owning residential property (I am not interested in farmlands), and investing - any feedback is appreciated. I am pretty sure I do not get to vote, which is somewhat of a deal to me as an apolitical individual who is intellectually aware of major political issues. Besides these practical matters, there is the intangible "Indian-ness" - the personal connection to our motherland that tugs at our soul.

Thanks to imh1b for the question - I do not have the answer though, can anyone help?

To dingox100, thanks for your candid comments. I am not losing any sleep over it (nor did I lose any while waiting for my GC). At the same time, these are issues I believe we need to think about - it is not smart to live with head buried in the proverbial sand.

Cheers,
stuck
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  #6  
Old 03-04-2011, 11:57 AM
a_yaja a_yaja is offline
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by imh1b View Post
If you become US citizen and go back to India. Can you take social security retirement benefits in old age?
Yes. You are a citizen of the US. You can live anywhere to collect SS benefits. Currently, if you have contributed 40 credits towards SSN, you can be anywhere in the world at 65 to collect benefits even if you are not a citizen (ofcourse, this is as of today - anything can change in the future).
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  #7  
Old 03-04-2011, 01:17 PM
kutra kutra is offline
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Default India and its obessession with Western society

In my opinion, in another 20-30 years, India will start resembling US. The Western influence has always penetrated the fabric of the Indian society, so be sure that you aren't moving to India with a unrealistic expectation. The points below are not intended to judge the impact of Western influence on India; I am merely presenting evidence to support my theory.
  • 50 years ago, there were no (or few) discotheques/bars in India, but then so many have mushroomed in the last 20-30 years.
  • 30 years ago, most working professionals stayed at home with their parents, but in the last 10-15 years, children have started buying their own houses and starting nuclear families of their own.
  • 30 years ago, most kids after graduation would take up a job in the same city where they grew up, but in the last 10-15 years, they have started moving to different cities and states for better opportunities.
  • 20 years ago, people saved money to buy luxury items such as cars, TVs, washing machies, etc, but in the last 10 years, people have started buying things on credit.
  • 20 years ago, only the well-to-do could afford eating out, wearing designer brands, sipping coffee for leisure, but in the last 10 years, even the lower middle-class has started indulging in these activities.
  • 20 years ago, your dose of American culture was through Hollywood movies or reruns of American TV shows, but in the last 10 years, up-to-the-minute American culture is served on multitudes of cable channels.
  • 10 years ago, very few people had cell phones, but in the last 5 years, the number of cell phones has just grown in millions.
  • 10 years ago, very few people would consider vacations (or could afford one) as an important break, but in the last 5 years, several people now take regular vacations to touristy cities and countries.
  • 10 years ago, everyone in India had a craze to go to the US, but in the last 5 years, US has come to India.
  • 5 years ago, there were no cheer leaders in Indian sports, but in the last 3 years, you have cheer leaders keeping you entertained while watching cricket.

These are just a few examples that I can think of. There is nothing good or bad about how the Indian society has changed, but the shifts from being a collectivist society (like most Asian societies) to becoming an individualist society (like most Western societies) are becoming obvious.

It is up to every individual to decide what's good for him/her and the family when they shift to India. Know that the India of today is different from the India that you left when you came to the US, and the Indian daily life that you see on your 4-5 week vacation is different from the daily life you face once you move there.

So my message is "keep you eyes and ears open, be aware of the ongoing transition in this young, emerging economy, and account for some mismatch in your expectations" and make the decision.

Good luck!

Last edited by kutra; 03-04-2011 at 03:28 PM.
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  #8  
Old 03-04-2011, 02:55 PM
eb2_immigrant eb2_immigrant is offline
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Thumbs up do you know what motivates you ?

I've asked myself this question several times; one of the reasons why I do not have answer yet is may be because I am considering too many intangible things into the equation or may be I lack decision making qualities.


With the vast socio economic cultural Uncertainty in the fray, I think a decision can not be made or judged. I think I have to make firm decisions, take chances and not whine about it if it is not a right move. That’s just me any way.

So my question to folks out there who are in limbo (like me)

If you have kids born and raised in US, I think the important thing to ask our self is "are we being selfish in thinking to settle down in India?”
I strongly feel that in most cases we are being selfish and we could argue until we turn blue.

PS -I may have answered the question.


Cheers


Quote:
Originally Posted by kutra View Post
In my opinion, in another 20-30 years, India will start resembling US. The Western influence has always penetrated the fabric of the Indian society, so be sure that you aren't moving to India with a unrealistic expectation. The points below are not intended to judge the impact of Western influence on India; I am merely presenting evidence to support my theory.
  • 50 years ago, there were no (or few) discotheques/bars in India, but then so many have mushroomed in the last 20-30 years.
  • 30 years ago, most working professionals stayed at home with their parents, but in the last 10-15 years, children have started buying their own houses and starting nuclear families of their own.
  • 30 years ago, most kids after graduation would take up a job in the same city where they grew up, but in the last 10-15 years, they have started moving to different cities and states for better opportunities.
  • 20 years ago, people saved money to buy luxury items such as cars, TVs, washing machies, etc, but in the last 10 years, people have started buying things on credit.
  • 20 years ago, only the well-to-do could afford eating out, wearing designer brands, sipping coffee for leisure, but in the last 10 years, even the lower middle-class has started indulging in these activities.
  • 20 years ago, your dose of American culture was through Hollywood movies or reruns of American TV shows, but in the last 10 years, up-to-the-minute American culture is served on multitudes of cable channels.
  • 10 years ago, very few people has cell phones, but in the last 5 years, the number of cell phones have just grown in millions.
  • 10 years ago, very few people would consider vacations (or afford one) as an important break, but in the last 5 years, several people now take regular vacations to touristy cities and countries.
  • 10 years ago, everyone in India had a craze to go to the US, but in the last 5 years, US has come to India.
  • 5 years ago, there were no cheer leaders in Indian sports, but in the last 3 years, you have cheer leaders keeping you entertained while watching cricket.

These are just a few examples that I can think of. There is nothing good or bad about how the Indian society has changed, but the shifts from being a collectivist society (like most Asian societies) to becoming an individualist society (like most Western societies) are becoming obvious.

It is up to every individual to decide what's good for him/her and the family when they shift to India. Know that the India of today is different from the India that you left when you came to the US, and the Indian daily life that you see on your 4-5 week vacations is different from the daily life you face once you move there.

So my message is "keep you eyes and ears open, be aware of the ongoing transition in this young, emerging economy, and account for some mismatch in your expectations" and make the decision.

Good luck!
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  #9  
Old 03-04-2011, 03:15 PM
Edison99 Edison99 is offline
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Default

Grant a green to you…
Quote:
Originally Posted by dingox100 View Post
This what the problem with our way of thinking . read below

If a person comes on L1 , the thinks about how to get H1
once he/she gets H1 then he thinks how to find a company who can apply for GC. He/she gets a company who can sponser GC they join them and apply for GC.
Once GC is started we think whether Labour will be cleared or not
If labour cleared we rush to apply for 140 and think whether will it be cleard or not
then comes 485 fear.. check visa bulletin every month from 1st till 11 till we see the bulletin and get dejected
and when 485 fiasco that happend in july 2007 happens then we start worrying about EAD, AP etc.

and finally when GC comes we fear about Citizenship.. when we get Citizenship and we are alomost at the retirement age we think whether we shld be here or in India .. common guys dont do too much math.. life is short.. we never know whether you will be alive tommrrow. So chill out and enjoy today!!! ....this is my 2 cents
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  #10  
Old 03-04-2011, 03:21 PM
Edison99 Edison99 is offline
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Default Nice evidences

I strongly concur with kutra on this -> It is up to every individual to decide what's good for him/her and the family when they shift to India. Know that the India of today is different from the India that you left when you came to the US, and the Indian daily life that you see on your 4-5 week vacations is different from the daily life you face once you move there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kutra View Post
In my opinion, in another 20-30 years, India will start resembling US. The Western influence has always penetrated the fabric of the Indian society, so be sure that you aren't moving to India with a unrealistic expectation. The points below are not intended to judge the impact of Western influence on India; I am merely presenting evidence to support my theory.
  • 50 years ago, there were no (or few) discotheques/bars in India, but then so many have mushroomed in the last 20-30 years.
  • 30 years ago, most working professionals stayed at home with their parents, but in the last 10-15 years, children have started buying their own houses and starting nuclear families of their own.
  • 30 years ago, most kids after graduation would take up a job in the same city where they grew up, but in the last 10-15 years, they have started moving to different cities and states for better opportunities.
  • 20 years ago, people saved money to buy luxury items such as cars, TVs, washing machies, etc, but in the last 10 years, people have started buying things on credit.
  • 20 years ago, only the well-to-do could afford eating out, wearing designer brands, sipping coffee for leisure, but in the last 10 years, even the lower middle-class has started indulging in these activities.
  • 20 years ago, your dose of American culture was through Hollywood movies or reruns of American TV shows, but in the last 10 years, up-to-the-minute American culture is served on multitudes of cable channels.
  • 10 years ago, very few people has cell phones, but in the last 5 years, the number of cell phones have just grown in millions.
  • 10 years ago, very few people would consider vacations (or afford one) as an important break, but in the last 5 years, several people now take regular vacations to touristy cities and countries.
  • 10 years ago, everyone in India had a craze to go to the US, but in the last 5 years, US has come to India.
  • 5 years ago, there were no cheer leaders in Indian sports, but in the last 3 years, you have cheer leaders keeping you entertained while watching cricket.

These are just a few examples that I can think of. There is nothing good or bad about how the Indian society has changed, but the shifts from being a collectivist society (like most Asian societies) to becoming an individualist society (like most Western societies) are becoming obvious.

It is up to every individual to decide what's good for him/her and the family when they shift to India. Know that the India of today is different from the India that you left when you came to the US, and the Indian daily life that you see on your 4-5 week vacations is different from the daily life you face once you move there.

So my message is "keep you eyes and ears open, be aware of the ongoing transition in this young, emerging economy, and account for some mismatch in your expectations" and make the decision.

Good luck!
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  #11  
Old 03-04-2011, 03:25 PM
StuckInTheMuck StuckInTheMuck is offline
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Default

Thanks to kutra & eb2_immigrant for sharing very perceptive thoughts. Like kutra, I do not judge a future India as being good or bad, just different. As for expectations, if I do move back after retirement (instead of making a career move), and with my daughter settled in USA, the most I would need is a peaceful life among my country folks, and not much else. Yes, the material comfort that we are accustomed to here in USA, especially quality healthcare at old age, likely won't be available in India. But as likely I won't be billed to death for visiting the doctor's office or hospitals.

To eb2_immigrant's point about being selfish in choosing to move back, if we do that after our kids have grown up and are happily settled in their own life, perhaps it ain't so bad?

Cheers,
stuck
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  #12  
Old 03-04-2011, 03:31 PM
spicy_guy spicy_guy is offline
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I always thought sporting US Citizenship is better and gives you flexibility in moving in/out of Indian and US. Especially, if we have kids born and raised here, USC comes in handy. In future, if our kinds want to be here for various reasons education, jobs, etc, we can stay with them easily.

Or...Is it?

There are several things to consider:

1. Once you reach certain age, for various reasons, you cannot simply keep moving around.
2. If we have deep familial ties in India along with responsibilities, its hard to stay here in US for so long.
3. Once we retire, most of us want to stay close to family, friends and community, and lead Indian way of active social life, which is way different here in US.


On other other side of the coin:
1. Cost of living margin b/n India and US is thinning down
2. Obviously, Pollution, corrupt bureaucracy, etc.
3. As a guy pointed out above, we have to pay hefty fees as NRIs for our kids edu

And these pros and cons vary b/n individuals..

So we have to weigh in b/n pros and cons and this is a good time to start.

Last edited by spicy_guy; 03-04-2011 at 03:34 PM.
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  #13  
Old 03-04-2011, 03:49 PM
eastindia eastindia is offline
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Just wait for 5 years. India will be a developed country and superpower.
Support Swami Ramdev. He is changing India
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  #14  
Old 03-04-2011, 04:00 PM
NELLAIKUMAR NELLAIKUMAR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eastindia View Post
Just wait for 5 years. India will be a developed country and superpower.
I don't know whether India will be super power or not, but more voices are being raised against unbelievable level of corruption. Please join this group India Against Corruption | Facebook and spread the word to all your frieds who care about India.
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  #15  
Old 03-04-2011, 04:08 PM
spicy_guy spicy_guy is offline
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Recently San Jose Mercury News ran a column in the main page of business edition about how foreign investors are getting turned away by bureaucracy and corruption in India. Very sad to know that.

Last edited by spicy_guy; 03-04-2011 at 04:11 PM.
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