The United States has a reputation of being the land of freedom and opportunity. This along with what is portrayed on television and in movies, makes it the perfect destination for those seeking a new home abroad.
One can become a citizen of the U.S. by birth (jus soli) or through naturalization. You automatically become a U.S. citizen if you are born in the U.S. Getting citizenship through US citizen parents is also possible on meeting certain conditions. But it is still no walk in the park getting citizenship through parents’ status as there are many stringent requirements that applicants and their parents need to fulfill before they can actually accomplish their goal (getting citizenship).
The process where a person not born in the United States voluntarily becomes a citizen is called naturalization. Such persons will have to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the USCIS to get naturalized.
The United States also has a system of dual citizenship where one can be a citizen of the state of residence as well be a citizen of the US.
To qualify for U.S. citizenship, you should be at least 18 years old and a permanent resident (Green Card holder). There are additional requirements too such as meeting physical presence and continuous residence requirements. Not to forget having a good moral character. This however does not cover all the eligibility requirements.
A person who has been naturalized gains the same rights and privileges of citizenship as natural born American citizens except for the fact that naturalized citizens do not qualify for the Office of the President of the United States.
Rights and Responsibilities After Getting Citizenship
What actually are the rights and benefits of being a U.S. citizen? What are the civic responsibilities that citizenship brings along?
Rights of U.S. Citizens
- You can vote in federal elections
- You can bring your dear ones to the U.S.
- Travel almost anywhere with a U.S. passport
- You can get citizenship for your children born abroad
- You will be able to serve on a jury
- You become eligible for federal jobs.
- You become eligible for federal grants and scholarship.
With the above mentioned rights, citizenship also brings some important responsibilities. As a U.S. citizen, it is your duty to you give back to your adopted nation by fulfilling these responsibilities. When you get naturalized, it also implies that you agree to accept all of the responsibilities of being a US citizen. Other than the ones mentioned in the Oath, U.S. citizens have many responsibilities.
Responsibilities of U.S. Citizens
- Have to support and defend the Constitution
- Be prepared to serve the country when required
- Show participation in the democratic process
- Obey federal, state, and local laws
- Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others
In addition, citizens have the responsibility to participate in the political process by registering and voting in elections. By paying taxes, serving as a witness, registering for the draft, etc., you become an active member of your community and demonstrate that you have taken up these additional responsibilities as a citizen of the U.S.