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What Is US Citizenship: Benefits, Responsibilities And FAQs. Photo KnowInsiders

The process of becoming a US citizen is called naturalization. The naturalization process involves many steps, which can be time consuming and difficult. As you go through these steps, it helps to remind yourself of the benefits of being a US citizen!

What is US Citizenship?

Citizenship in the United States is a status that grants people rights and privileges. It also holds responsibilities, such as paying taxes and voting in elections.

To become a citizen of the US, you must live here for five years (or three if married to a US citizen). You must also pass an English language test, a civil knowledge test, and have no criminal record.

Check More: 100+ U.S. Citizenship Test Questions and Best Answers

What are Benefits of US Citizenship?

Photo Forbes
Photo Forbes

Owning US citizenship means you have a lot of benefits. Below we list out some of the biggest benefits:

• Citizenship gives you protection

With citizenship, you will be protected both in the United States and abroad.

Protection from deportation

If you are a US citizen, you cannot be deported even if you are convicted.

Protection while abroad

The US government protects citizens when they travel abroad. If you are a US citizen, you can go to a US embassy or consulate in any country to get help and information.

Protection when returning home

Permanent residents must be cautious of travel regulations. They can be questioned at the border. But no one can deny the right to re-enter the US if you have a US passport.

• Citizenship makes you feel like you belong in the United States

• Citizenship connects you to your new country in so many ways.

• Pride and patriotism

New citizens often feel proud of their new country and proud to say they are American.

• Elected positions

As a U.S. citizen, you can hold office positions by election. Naturalized citizens can run for any office except for the presidency of the United States. The right to run for President is only open to residents born in the United States.

• Opportunity to bring family to the United States

Citizens have priority over permanent residents when they want to bring family members to live in the United States.

• Benefits of U.S. Citizens to Children

If your child is under 18 years of age and resides in the United States, they will automatically qualify for citizenship when you naturalize.

• Citizenship expands your rights

By law, everyone has certain rights in the United States. But one of the benefits of US citizenship is that you get more rights. For example:

You have the right to vote

You are entitled to Health Insurance

• Citizenship brings economic benefits

Employment in government is often more secure and well-paid than employment in private enterprises. Government jobs make up the bulk of the U.S. economy. But many government jobs are only available to citizens. Most jobs in the federal government are open to citizens only.

Many private sector employers will also prioritize accepting US citizens. One of the benefits of being a US citizen is that you get access to private sector jobs. Overall, US residents earn about 9% more of their income after naturalization.

If you are a senior or a person with a disability, the government guarantees a number of benefits to its citizens. If you are not a citizen, you do not receive these benefits for more than 7 years.

Is there any limit to being a US citizen?

The United States allows people to have dual citizenship, but not all other countries are allowed. For example, if you are of Chinese, Indian, Myanmar or Norwegian descent, you will have to give up your citizenship of that country in order to enjoy the benefits of a U.S. citizen.

What are the Responsibilities of US Citizenship?

Photo Texas Tribune
Photo Texas Tribune

There are many great benefits to being a citizen in the United States, but it also comes with specific responsibilities such as paying taxes.

Obeying the law

Every U.S. citizen must obey federal, state and local laws, and pay the penalties that can be incurred when a law is broken.

Paying taxes

All citizens must pay taxes in one form or another, including federal, state, local, Social Security, property and sales taxes. Each tax funds services and programs - i.e., schools, roads, police and fire protection, Medicare and national defense - that would be impossible to maintain without the support of tax payments.

Serving on a jury when summoned

Whether a citizen or not, all persons have a right to a trial by jury made up of a panel of their peers. Jurors are drawn by lot from the general population of citizens in a jurisdiction, and once randomly summoned to jury duty are required to be available to serve. A citizen also may be summoned or subpoenaed to serve as a witness during a trial and, if called, has the responsibility to appear and testify under oath regarding information pertinent to a given event.

Registering with the Selective Service

The Selective Service is a federal agency within the executive branch of government that exists to readily resume a draft, if necessary, to provide the number of men needed by the armed forces in the event of war or other national emergency. Federal law requires virtually all male U.S. citizens and male noncitizens who are ages 18 through 25 to register with the Selective Service. Men who do not register are subject to prosecution and, if convicted, may be fined up to $250,000 and/or serve up to five years in prison. Registration for Selective Service also is required to be eligible for various federal programs and benefits, including student loans, job training, federal employment and naturalization.

Voluntary Responsibilities of U.S. Citizens

Other civic responsibilities, while not mandatory, are central to democracy. U.S. citizens are encouraged to exercise certain responsibilities and privileges, including:

Voting. While voting is a right and privilege of citizenship, it is also a duty or responsibility. U.S. citizens have a responsibility to participate in their government by registering to vote and voting in elections. By voting, citizens have a voice in their government and help ensure that the democratic representative system of government is maintained.

Staying informed. Citizens have the responsibility to stay informed of the issues affecting their communities, as well as national and international issues, and to be active in the civic processes. This includes being well informed about the issues and candidates before voting in an election, getting involved in a political campaign or running for public office, or using their right to address the government through activism.

Community involvement. Citizens also should contribute to the well-being of the community by recognizing where help or change is needed and by getting involved through offering their knowledge and talents to local organizations, committees and community projects.

Practicing tolerance. With democracy comes diversity, and U.S. citizens have the responsibility to support and protect the rights of others and to respect the differences in opinions, religions, cultures and ethnic groups.

Passing it on. It is the responsibility of citizens to pass along the importance of good citizenship to future generations. By teaching their children how to stay informed, to get involved, to obey the law, and the necessity of voting, parents and mentors demonstrate how to improve society.

US Citizenship: FAQs

Photo stock passport
Photo stock passport

What is the difference between a Permanent Resident and a US Citizen?

Although both permanent residents and US citizens enjoy the social benefits set forth by the US government, there are still differences between the two groups, including:

• U.S. citizens have the right to vote in the federal, state, or geographic region in which they live, but permanent residents do not have the privilege of voting.

• Permanent residents can only hold a passport of their home country, however US citizens can own a powerful US passport.

• U.S. citizens are not subject to deportation, but permanent residents can be deported to their home countries in certain cases in violation of U.S. law.

• US citizens can run in a public election, permanent residents cannot.

• US citizens can join the US Armed Forces and defense services, permanent residents cannot.

• US citizens are not bound by visa quotas to bring their family members to the US, but permanent residents have certain limitations in this regard.

What is the government agency that handles citizenship applications?

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the Department of Homeland Security is the department that is responsible for processing citizenship applications. Applications are handled exclusively by this federal government department. There are no state agencies or bodies involved.

Who is eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization?

Eligibility for naturalization generally depends on a number of factors:

• How long you’ve had your green card

• How long you’ve physically lived in the United States

• Whether you’ve served in the U.S. military (and if so, whether your service was during “peacetime” or “wartime”

How many ways to become a U.S. citizen?

There are three ways:

• Birth in the U.S.

• Naturalization

• Citizenship through U.S. citizen parent

Will I need any additional documents for citizenship application?

Yes, you may submit your N-400 application with the following initial evidence:

• A copy of your Permanent Resident Card

• A copy of your marriage certificate (if applicable)

• Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service (if applying for naturalization based on military service)

• DD Form 214, NGB Form 22, or discharge orders (if applying for naturalization based on military service and separated from service)

• A copy of your official military orders (if applying for naturalization based on military service and currently serving)

• Evidence of your citizen spouse’s employment abroad (if applicable)

• Two passport-style photographs (if you reside outside the United States)

You must bring the originals of the above to your naturalization interview. Moreover, depends on your situations, you may be required to bring more documents at your naturalization interview. For example, if you apply for citizenship based on 3- year marriage to a U.S. citizen, you need to bring evidence to prove your good-faith martial relationship and mutual residence in the last three years. In case you have a criminal record, you must bring a certified copy of a judgment, police report or other similar records regarding your criminal history. Assume you have any trip outside the U.S. for more than 6 months, you must bring evidence to prove you maintain your continuous residence in the U.S. during that trip period. Learn more in our article Documents to Bring to Your N-400 Citizenship Interview.

How much does it cost to apply for naturalization?

The current government filing fee for naturalization applications is $725, including $640 for processing and $85 for biometrics services. Military applicants are exempt from both the application filing fee and the biometrics fee. Applicants aged 75 and older are exempt from the biometrics fee (see our detailed guide to naturalization costs).

Boundless and RapidVisa offer personalized naturalization support from start to finish for the low fee of $199.

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