The Constitution and laws of the United States give many rights to both citizens and non-citizens living in the United States. However, some rights are only for citizens, such as:
Only U.S. citizens can vote in federal elections. Most states also restrict the right to vote, in most elections, to U.S. citizens.
This is the most attractive benefit of becoming a U.S. citizen. As a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor your parents, spouse and, minor children (no quota or limits or priority dates) to come and live with you as permanent residents. You can also sponsor other relatives such as sons and daughters above the age of 18, brothers, sisters, etc.; however, there is waiting involved. You can get all the details about this at Family Based Immigration
Obtaining citizenship for children born abroad
In most cases, a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen is automatically a U.S. citizen.
U.S. citizenship for children under 18
Permanent resident children under the age of 18 in the lawful legal and physical custody of their naturalizing parent(s) automatically become U.S. citizens when their parent(s) become naturalized.
As a U.S. citizen, you are not restricted on the time you can spend outside of the U.S. Permanent residents can lose their status if they leave the country for 180 days or longer (Read about Retaining Green card). For absence out of U.S. for more than 6 months, permanent residents must obtain a re-entry permit. As a U.S. citizen, you can skip this process and live abroad without jeopardizing your citizenship status. Travel is also more convenient because many countries do not require visas for U.S. citizens to go to such as the UK, many countries in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
Traveling with a U.S. passport
A U.S. passport allows you to get assistance from the U.S. government when overseas.
Becoming eligible for Federal jobs
Most jobs with government agencies require a U.S. citizenship.
Becoming an elected official
Many elected offices in this country require a U.S. citizenship.
Showing your patriotism
In addition, becoming a U.S. citizen is a way to demonstrate your commitment to your new country.
Cases of Illegal Activity
All people in the U.S. have a duty to follow the laws. However, it is beneficial to be U.S. citizen in the event you are accused of any illegal activity. As a permanent resident, you remain within the authority of the USCIS and the Immigration Courts and can be removed (or deported) from the U.S. for such activity. As a U.S. citizen, you have the right to an attorney and a fair trial without being deported.
Many financial aid grants, including college scholarships and funds given by the government for specific purposes are available only to U.S. citizens.
Citizens who retire abroad receive full Social Security benefits (whereas lawful permanent residents receive only half their benefits) and citizens may be subject to fewer restrictions on estate taxes and higher estate tax exemptions.
Citizens are eligible for more public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Food Stamps, and certain types of educational scholarships and financial aid.
The above list does not include all the benefits of citizenship, only some of the more important ones.
To become a U.S. citizen you must take the Oath of Allegiance. The Oath includes several promises you make when you become a U.S. citizen, including promises to:
- Give up all prior allegiance to any other nation or sovereignty;
- Swear allegiance to the United States;
- Support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States; and
- Serve the country when required.
U.S. citizens have many responsibilities other than the ones mentioned in the Oath. Citizens have a responsibility to participate in the political process by registering and voting in elections. Serving on a jury is another responsibility of citizenship. Finally, America becomes stronger when all of its citizens respect the different opinions, cultures, ethnic groups, and religions found in this country. Tolerance for differences is also a responsibility of citizenship.
When you decide to become a U.S. citizen, you should be willing to fulfill the responsibilities of citizenship. We hope you will honor and respect the freedoms and opportunities citizenship gives you. At the same time, we hope you become an active member of your community. It is by participating in your community that you truly become an American.
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