Lawful permanent residents of the United States are eligible to become U.S. citizens. There are many benefits to naturalizing as a U.S. citizen. After naturalization, you become entitled to the rights that come with lifelong U.S. citizenship. For example, you’ll no longer have to renew your green card for continued immigration status. This article describes these and other benefits of naturalization, as well as your new responsibilities as a citizen of the United States of America.
Written by Jonathan Petts.
Written May 30, 2022
What Rights Are You Entitled to as a U.S. citizen?
When you take the Oath of Allegiance, you’re officially sworn in as an American citizen, authorizing you to share in the benefits reserved only for American citizens. As a citizen, you won’t need to renew your green card status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and pay the accompanying filing fees any longer. Here are several other benefits.
You Are Protected From Deportation
One of the biggest reliefs for green card holders that naturalize is the protection from deportation. Like any other United States citizen, naturalized U.S. citizens can’t be deported from the United States. This does not mean that you won’t face punishment for breaking U.S. immigration law. It just means that you won’t have to be deported to face the consequences of your criminal actions.
Your criminal history will be closely examined when you apply for naturalization. If you’ve committed crimes like drug abuse or immigration fraud that make you eligible for deportation, you should first talk to an immigration lawyer before you apply for naturalization.
You Can Sponsor Family Members' Green Card Applications
In addition to being protected from deportation, you can also sponsor applications for permanent resident status for your family members who qualify as immediate relatives. This includes your spouse, siblings, and parents. Your children also automatically become U.S. citizens no matter where in the world they’re born. If they’re born in a foreign country, you will just have to report their birth to the local U.S. embassy or consulate.
You Can Apply for a U.S. Passport and Travel
Once you complete the naturalization process and become a U.S. citizen, you qualify to apply for a U.S. passport. U.S. passport holders can make short-term trips to nearly every country in the world without needing a visa. With a U.S. passport, you can visit whichever destination you’d like, and seek help from the U.S. embassy or consulate there if you need it.
You Can Vote and Run for Public Office
Naturalized citizens have access to federal benefits that only U.S. citizens can enjoy. You can run for public office as an elected official, vote in federal elections, apply for federal jobs, and take up roles in the federal government and government agencies. You’ll also be eligible for government benefits like applying for federal educational loans for college.
Finally, you can vote in any state or federal U.S. election. Voting in U.S. elections is a right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution for all citizens, regardless of gender, race, or religion. As a naturalized citizen, you’ll get to play your part in electing your local and state government leaders, as well as the president and vice president of the United States.
What Are the Responsibilities of a U.S. Citizen?
There are certain responsibilities of U.S. citizens that you should be aware of before deciding to naturalize as an American.
You May Need To Renounce Foreign Citizenship
Depending on the rules for dual citizenship in your home country, you may have to renounce your foreign citizenship when you become an American citizen. While the United States permits dual citizenship, the responsibilities of U.S. citizenship may sometimes be at odds with those of your country of origin.
In such a case, choosing to naturalize as a U.S. citizen means you’re choosing to abandon your current citizenship. This would be the scenario for countries like Japan and India that do not allow you to be a citizen of two countries. In countries like Australia and Canada, you’ll be able to maintain your citizenship while also naturalizing as an American.
You Need To File Income Taxes
Another responsibility you’ll be assuming as a U.S. citizen is having to file U.S. income taxes for life, no matter where you live in the world. Sometimes U.S. citizens who live abroad may meet certain requirements that allow them to only pay taxes on income that goes beyond a $100,000 limit.
You May Be Called to Serve in the Military
In addition to paying taxes, you may also be called upon to serve in the U.S. military. This is in the event that drafts mandating military service are officially reinstated. To that end, any male who held a green card between the ages of 18 and 25, has to register with the Selective Service System (SSS). Registering with the SSS is required by law.
You May Have To Serve Jury Duty
As a U.S. citizen, you will also be legally mandated to carry out any jury duty assigned to you. You must show up when you’re summoned for jury duty. Then, if the judge and attorneys choose you to serve, you’ll serve on the jury. If not, you’re free to go. There are some groups of people that may be exempt from serving on a jury, based on their age, positions in public service, or disability. This varies by state.
Getting U.S. citizenship can be complicated, but working with a good immigration attorney can make it easier. If you can't afford the attorney fees and don't want to handle your citizenship case alone, we may be able to help. If you are eligible, our free web app will walk you through the process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government. Click "Get Started" to see how we can help make your American dream come true!