The rights & benefits of U.S. Citizenship

Do you want to become a U.S. citizen? There are many benefits to U.S. citizenship. Learn about the benefits of U.S. citizenship so you can decide if it is right for you.

women at US citizenship ceremony

The process of becoming a U.S. citizen is called naturalization. There are many steps to naturalization, and it can be a long and difficult process. As you go through the steps, it is good to remind yourself of the rights and benefits of U.S. citizenship!

Citizenship gives you protection.

With citizenship, you will gain protection both in the USA and overseas.

Protection against deportation

You cannot be deported if you are a U.S. citizen, even if you are found guilty of a crime.

Protection overseas

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

Protection returning home

Permanent residents have to be careful about travel regulations. They can be questioned at the border. But nobody can deny your right to re-enter the USA if you are a U.S. passport holder.

Protection when in need

There are some benefits the U.S. government offers that are only available for U.S. citizens.

Citizenship gives you a sense of belonging.

There are many ways that citizenship connects you to your new country.

Pride and patriotism

New citizens often feel proud of their new country and being able to say they are Americans.

Elected office

As a U.S. citizen, you can hold elected office. Naturalized citizens can run for any elected office except the United States president. Presidents have to be born in the USA.


To register to vote and vote in a federal election, you need to be a U.S. citizen. 

Maintain residency

As a U.S. citizen, you have the right to live in the United States; this right can not be taken away from you.

Opportunity to bring family members to the USA

Citizens get priority over permanent residents when they want to bring family members to live in the USA. Please visit our Family Immigration to the USA page to learn more about petitions for some of your relatives.

Benefits of U.S. citizenship for your children

A child of a U.S. citizen can qualify for citizenship at birth and before they become 18 years of age. If your children are under 18 and residents in the USA, they automatically qualify for citizenship when you are naturalized.

You can know more here about who are considered children of U.S. citizens.

To obtain citizenship, children of a U.S. citizen born outside the USA but now living in the United States need to:

  • Have at least one U.S. citizen parent (by birth or naturalization).
  • Be a U.S. resident.
  • Be under 18 years old.
  • Live in the United States under the legal custody of the U.S. citizen parent.

To obtain citizenship, children of a U.S. citizen living outside the United States need to: 

  • Have at least one U.S. citizen parent (by birth or naturalization).
  • Have a parent who meets physical presence requirements.
  • Be under 18 years old.
  • Live outside the United States under legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent.
  • Have been lawfully admitted and maintain lawful status in the USA.

Watch a video about what becoming a U.S. citizen meant to one young refugee.


The Refugee Center Online is now USAHello.

Citizenship extends your rights.

Everyone has certain rights in the USA under the law. But among the benefits of U.S. citizenship is that you will have more rights. For example:

Citizenship brings economic benefits.

Government jobs are often more secure and better paid than jobs in private businesses. These government jobs are a big part of the US economy.  But many government jobs are only open to citizens. You almost always have to be a citizen to work for the federal government.

Many employers in the private sector will also give preference to U.S. citizens. One of the benefits of U.S. citizenship is you will have access to those private-sector jobs. On the whole, U.S. residents earn about 9% more after naturalization.

If you are older or disabled, certain government benefits are guaranteed for citizens. You may not receive these benefits for more than 7 years if you are not a citizen. Learn more about public benefits.

Watch a video about how naturalization benefits Americans and newcomers.


What are the responsibilities of U.S. citizens?

As a U.S. citizen, you have the responsibility of supporting freedom in our country. Here are some of the other responsibilities of U.S. Citizens:

Are there any drawbacks to becoming a citizen?

The USA allows people to hold dual nationalities, but not all other countries do. For example, if you are originally from China, India, Myanmar, or Norway, you will have to give up your citizenship to get the benefits of U.S. citizenship. Learn which are the countries that do and don’t allow dual citizenship.

If you are ready to start the process, visit our page on How to Apply for U.S. Citizenship.

The information on this page comes from the New Americans Campaign and other trusted sources. It is intended for guidance and is updated as often as possible. USAHello does not give legal advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal advice. If you are looking for a free or low-cost lawyer or legal help, we can help you find free and low-cost legal services.