Benefits of Naturalization

Naturalization is the process by which a foreign national becomes a citizen of the United States.  Of course, there are certain requirements that must be met before one can become a U.S. citizen.  Generally speaking, one must be 18 years or older, be a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) for at least five years preceding the date of filing the application, have continuously lived in the U.S. for at least five years prior to filing the application, pass an English and Civics exam, and pass a thorough background check.  Among other things, USCIS will look for criminal records, any evidence of threats to national security, and any indication of bad moral character.

There are exceptions to certain requirements to naturalize.  For example, spouses of U.S. citizens qualify to naturalize after three years of becoming a U.S. citizen.  They must meet all the other naturalization requirements, but as a spouse of a U.S. citizen, they can become a citizen quicker.  There are also limited exceptions for those with family in a qualifying service in the U.S. Armed Forces.  They may also be eligible to naturalize much quicker than others.  Children of a U.S. citizen may also be able to derive citizenship through their parent(s), which means that technically they were born a U.S. citizen, even though born outside of the country.

There are certain benefits to naturalizing, rather than remaining an LPR.  Once a U.S. citizen, you can vote, petition other family members to come to the U.S. immediately, have your children born abroad derive citizenship, receive government assistance while traveling abroad, and qualify for federal jobs.  Further, it is a way to show patriotism, and even shield yourself from any future removal/deportation risks.

To become a citizen, you must take the Oath of Allegiance, which includes several promises to give up all prior allegiance to any other nation or sovereignty, swear allegiance to the United States; support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States; and serve the country when required.  Depending on your native country, you may also be able to maintain your citizenship and have dual citizenship.  As you can see, becoming a citizen of the U.S. brings many benefits.  If you feel that you may qualify, contact an experienced attorney to assess your options.

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