As an immigrant, you might feel compelled to pursue naturalization to better secure your right to remain in America. The zero-tolerance approach to immigration under the previous administration certainly ramped up fear in the immigrant community, including lawful, permanent residents, like yourself.
So, is pursuing naturalization worth the hassle? Ultimately, this depends on your long-term goals. If you intend to make America your permanent home for the long haul, becoming a citizen ensures you have a say in the running of the country.
When considering citizenship, look beyond the benefits afforded by successful completion of the process. The perks do come at a cost that you should consider before making a decision. USCIS shares the following main responsibilities:
- Naturalized citizens must give up allegiances to the previous countries they called home.
- Naturalized citizens must defend the laws of the land and the highest law, the American Constitution.
- Naturalized citizens must swear allegiance to America.
- Like all citizens, naturalized citizens must prepare to serve the country if called upon.
Rights and benefits
Most would argue that these responsibilities present an easy price to pay for the benefits of becoming an American citizen. Once you are a citizen, these advantages may become open to you:
- Citizens’ requests to bring families to America may take precedence over permanent residents.
- Citizens may become eligible for jobs at the federal level, such as working in immigration.
- Citizens may receive the travel perks associated with the American passport.
- Citizens may obtain citizenship for children even when born abroad.
- Qualifying citizens may have the right to vote at local, state and federal levels.
- Naturalized citizens cannot currently become president of America, but they may run for local and state office.
Note that other factors can affect your rights as a citizen. For example, convicted felons might lose the right to vote.