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What are the benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen?

Citizens of other countries who are living in Georgia may not be aware that U.S. citizenship brings with it many benefits. At the same time, American citizenship carries with it certain responsibilities.

One o the most important benefits of citizenship is the right to vote in elections. Only U.S. citizens can vote in federal elections, and some states also impose citizenship requirements on voters. In addition, many elective offices require candidates to be citizens. Another important benefit of citizenship deals with bringing relatives to live in the United States. Relatives of citizens get priority if they want to live in this country permanently. If naturalized citizens return to their country of birth, they will do so on U.S. passports, making it easier for them to get help from U.S. embassies abroad.

When foreigners go through the naturalization process, they will be expected to take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States and give up allegiance to their home country. They will be expected to defend the U.S. Constitution and serve in the military if called upon. New citizens also will be expected to register to vote and participate in democratic elections to choose new leaders. They become eligible to sit on juries. New citizens also will be expected to be tolerant of beliefs and customs of other U.S. residents.

U.S. citizenship is a privilege, not a right. Rights or benefits usually do not begin until after the person becomes a citizen. Applicants who meet the criteria to become citizens may be tested on their knowledge of the United States. Becoming a U.S. citizen is not an easy endeavor and may require the assistance of an immigration lawyer to facilitate the process.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "What Are the Benefits and Responsibilities of Citizenship?", October 29, 2014

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