Naturalization Process – Benefits and Responsibilities of US Citizenship

The acquisition of US nationality or citizenship by any foreign national is called Naturalization. The term is called so because Naturalization confers on an applicant almost all the rights that a citizen by birth benefits from.

Blue American passport with citizenship documents on white background.

How to become a U.S. Citizen?

A foreign citizen can initiate the Naturalization process by filing Form N-400, which is the Application for Naturalization.

A US citizenship aspirant must meet the following eligibility criteria as a prerequisite for the same:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must be a permanent resident for at least 3 years if married to a US citizen, or at least 5 years after acquiring green card.
  • Must be an individual with a sound moral character
  • Must know the basic facts about US government. This can be exempted in cases of individuals with certain kinds of permanent impairment
  • Must be physically present in or should have resided in the US for a continuous specified period.
  • The aspirant must be capable of speaking, reading and writing basic English, except in a few specified cases.

An applicant may or may not be in the US while filling the said form. It is recommended to refer to the manual M-476 at www.USCIS.gov when filling the same from overseas.

Benefits of U.S. Citizenship

US citizenship not only offers several rights but it involves many responsibilities too. A U.S citizen gets many exclusive rights that permanent residents do not including the following:

  • The Right to Vote US citizens can exercise this right in Federal elections, and most states restrict this right only to US citizens.
  • The Right to Get Family Members to US US citizens are usually given priority when filing petition to permanently move their family members to the US.
  • Acquiring US citizenship for children born abroad Generally, a child born to a US citizen in a foreign country automatically acquires US citizenship.
  • US Passport US citizens can avail of government assistance when travelling overseas.
  • Applications to Federal Jobs Most Federal jobs quote US citizenship as an eligibility criterion.
  • An opportunity to become an elected official Most elected offices in US necessitate US citizenship.

What Responsibilities Come with US Citizenship?

  • A US citizen needs to give up any prior, national or sovereign, allegiance completely.
  • The Oath requires a citizen to swear allegiance to US.
  • It requires an individual to support and safeguard the US Constitution and Federal laws.
  • A US citizen needs to commit service to the nation whenever required.

There are many more responsibilities a US citizen needs to fulfill, apart from the ones in the Oath. He/She needs to register for and exercise the right to vote diligently; and serve on a jury. Finally, to fortify America by respecting diversity in opinions, cultures, ethnicities and religions in this nation. Tolerance for differences is a key responsibility that comes with US citizenship.