Becoming a U.S. Citizen

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 What Does Becoming a United States Citizen Mean?

When someone becomes a United States citizen, they gain numerous rights and privileges based on the U.S. Constitution and federal and state laws. Some of the benefits of obtaining U.S. citizenship are:

The Right to Vote in Elections

U.S. citizens have the right to participate in the democratic process by voting in local, state, and federal elections. This includes voting for candidates running for various public offices, such as the President, members of Congress, governors, and city council members.

Citizens can also vote on ballot initiatives, referendums, and amendments that can have a significant impact on laws, policies, and the direction of the country. Voting is a powerful way for citizens to make their voices heard and influence decisions that affect their lives and communities.

Eligibility for Federal Employment or Federal Benefits, like Federal Grants

U.S. citizenship grants eligibility for various federal jobs that may require security clearances or other citizenship-related qualifications. This can open up opportunities in various fields, including law enforcement, national security, and public administration.

Additionally, citizens have access to numerous federal benefits and programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, and federal financial aid for education. U.S. citizens may also qualify for federal grants that support research, community development, and other projects.

Eligibility for State Benefits

As U.S. citizens, people are eligible for various state benefits, which can vary depending on the state in which they reside. These benefits may include access to healthcare programs, educational assistance, housing assistance, and other social services designed to support citizens and improve their quality of life. In some states, citizens may also be eligible for additional benefits unavailable to non-citizens, such as state-funded financial aid for higher education.

The Ability to Sponsor Family Members for Green Card Applications

U.S. citizens can help their immediate family members, including spouses, children, and parents, obtain lawful permanent resident status (a green card) through family-based immigration. This can be a crucial step in reuniting families and providing loved ones with the opportunity to live and work in the United States legally. Additionally, U.S. citizens can sponsor more distant relatives, such as siblings, through a more limited number of available visas.

Protection from Deportation

U.S. citizens are protected from deportation or removal from the country, whereas non-citizens, even those with lawful permanent resident status, may be at risk of deportation under certain circumstances, such as committing a crime or violating immigration laws. This protection provides stability and security for citizens and their families, ensuring they can build their lives in the United States without fear of being forced to leave.

The Right to Travel Abroad with a U.S. Visa

U.S. citizens can travel internationally using a U.S. passport, recognized and respected worldwide. They can stay abroad for extended periods without losing their right to return to the United States. This freedom of movement allows citizens to explore other countries, visit family and friends, and engage in international business or educational opportunities without jeopardizing their ability to come back to the U.S.

Additionally, U.S. citizens are generally entitled to assistance from U.S. embassies and consulates when traveling abroad, should they encounter any difficulties.

The Opportunity to Run for Public Election and Hold Office

U.S. citizenship allows people to participate in the political process as voters and as candidates for public office. Citizens can run for elected positions at the local, state, and federal levels, such as city council, state legislature, or even the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate. By holding public office, citizens can represent their communities, advocate for policies and initiatives that align with their values, and play a direct role in shaping the country’s future.


In addition to these benefits, U.S. citizenship also comes with certain obligations, such as paying federal taxes, registering for selective service, and serving on a jury when required.

According to the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, people born in the United States automatically become U.S. citizens. Children born outside the United States to at least one U.S. citizen parent may also qualify for U.S. citizenship. Other individuals can acquire U.S. citizenship through the process of naturalization.

What is Naturalization?

Naturalization is the legal process through which a non-U.S. citizen can obtain U.S. citizenship. This process can be lengthy and requires the applicant to meet several eligibility requirements.

The primary eligibility requirement for naturalization is that the person must become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or hold a green card.

Other requirements include:

  1. Being an LPR for at least five years (with some exceptions);
  2. Being at least 18 years old;
  3. Demonstrating good moral character;
  4. Living for at least three months in the state where the application is filed;
  5. Having basic English skills (reading, writing, and speaking) with some exceptions;
  6. Living continuously in the United States for five years before applying;
  7. Proving physical presence in the United States for at least 30 months of the five-year period before applying;
  8. Passing the U.S. citizenship test; and
  9. Pledging to abide by all federal laws, the U.S. Constitution, and being loyal to the United States.

Meeting these requirements can be challenging, but once they are met, the applicant can file the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is important to note that USCIS will investigate your entire immigration history. If any evidence of fraud or similar issues is discovered, you may face deportation.

What Are the Other Steps of the Naturalization Process?

The naturalization process involves several steps: determining eligibility, preparing, and submitting Form N-400 with USCIS. The remaining steps include the following:

  1. Biometrics Appointment: Applicants must be fingerprinted and photographed for an FBI criminal background check.
  2. USCIS Interview: Applicants will be interviewed by USCIS and take the required English and civics tests. After the interview, the officer will provide the results.
  3. Approval or Denial: USCIS will issue a written decision for the N-400 application after the interview. If denied, applicants may appeal by filing Form N-336.
  4. Oath of Allegiance Notice: Approved applicants will be invited to attend an oath ceremony to take the “oath of allegiance.”
  5. Oath of Allegiance: Applicants officially become U.S. citizens after taking the oath of allegiance at a naturalization ceremony administered by USCIS or a judge. They will receive a Certificate of Naturalization afterward.

Should I Hire an Attorney for Help with U.S. Citizenship Matters?

Given the complexity of becoming a United States citizen for non-citizens, it is advisable to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced citizenship attorney in your area.

An immigration attorney can help you better understand the immigration process, assist you with your application, and represent you in any necessary immigration hearings or court proceedings.

By working with legal counsel found through LegalMatch’s attorney-client matching system, you can navigate the naturalization process more smoothly and increase your chances of successfully becoming a U.S. citizen.

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