Do you want to become a US citizen? There are many benefits to US citizenship. Learn about the benefits of US citizenship so you can decide if it is right for you.
The process of becoming a US 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 US citizenship!
Citizenship gives you protection
Citizenship can offer you protection both in the USA and overseas.
Protection against deportation
You cannot be deported if you are a US citizen, even if you are found guilty of a crime.
The US government protects citizens when they travel overseas. If you are a citizen, you can go to a US 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 US passport holder.
Protection when in need
There are some benefits the US government offers that are only available for US 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.
US citizens 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.
US citizens can register to vote and vote in a federal election.
US citizens 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 relatives.
Benefits of US citizenship for your children
A child of a US 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.
Watch a video about what becoming a US 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 US citizenship is that you will have more rights. For example:
- You have the right to vote – learn how to vote in the USA.
- You have the right to federal college assistance – find out how to go to college.
- You have the right to Medicare – read about healthcare in the USA.
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 US citizens. One of the benefits of US citizenship is you will have access to those private-sector jobs. On the whole, US 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 seven 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 US citizens?
As a US citizen, you have the responsibility of supporting freedom in our country. Here are some of the responsibilities of US Citizens:
- Respect all federal, state, and local laws.
- Respect the rights and beliefs of others.
- Support the Constitution.
- Participate in the democratic process.
- Stay informed of important issues affecting your community.
- Declare and pay income taxes on time. You can learn more about USA taxes on our How to Pay Taxes page.
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 US citizenship. Learn which are the countries that do and don’t allow dual citizenship.
If you are ready to start the process, learn more on our How to Apply for US Citizenship page.
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.