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U.S. Citizenship

Why Become a U.S. Citizen?

Permanent residents have most of the rights of U.S. citizens. But there are many important reasons to consider becoming a U.S. citizen. Here are some good reasons:

Showing your patriotism. Becoming a citizen is a way to demonstrate your commitment to your new country.

Voting. Only citizens can vote in federal elections.Most states also restrict the right to vote, in most elections, to U.S. citizens.

Serving on a jury. Only U.S. citizens can serve on a federal jury. Most states also restrict jury service to U.S. citizens. Serving on a jury is an important responsibility for U.S. citizens.

• Traveling with a U.S. passport. A U.S. passport enables you to get assistance from the U.S. government when overseas, if necessary.

Bringing family members to the U.S. U.S. citizens generally get priority when petitioning to bring family members permanently to this country.

Obtaining citizenship for children born abroad. In most cases, a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen is automatically a U.S. citizen.

Becoming eligible for federal jobs. Certain jobs with government agencies require U.S. citizenship.

Becoming an elected official. Only citizens can run for federal office (U.S. Senate or House of Representatives) and for most state and local offices.

Keeping your residency. A U.S. citizen’s right to remain in the United States cannot be taken away.

Becoming eligible for federal grants and scholarships. Many financial aid grants, including college scholarships and funds given by the government for specific purposes, are available only to U.S. citizens.

Obtaining government benefits. Some government benefits are available only to U.S. citizens.

Naturalization: Becoming a Citizen

The process of becoming a U.S. citizen is called “naturalization.” You can apply for naturalization once you meet the following requirements:

  • Live in the U.S. for at least five years as a permanent resident (or three years if married to and living with a U.S. citizen).
  • Are present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the past five years (or 18 months out of the past three years if married to and living with a U.S. citizen).
  • Live within a state or USCIS district for at least three months before you apply.

Requirements for Naturalization

The general requirements for naturalization are:

1. Live in the U.S. as a permanent resident for a specific amount of time (Continuous Residence).

2. Be present in the U.S. for specific time periods (Physical Presence).

3. Spend specific amounts of time in your state or USCIS district (Time in State or USCIS District).

4. Behave in a legal and acceptable manner (Good Moral Character).

5. Know English and information about U.S. history and government (English and Civics).

6. Understand and accept the principles of the U.S. Constitution (Attachment to the Constitution).