The benefits and advantages of U.S. Citizenship

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The Constitution and laws of the United States give many rights to both citizens and non-citizens. However, some rights, benefits and advantages are only available to U.S. citizens. The below is a list of some – perhaps the most important – of these benefits and advantages.

The right to vote, the right to hold certain federal jobs and the right to run for certain public offices

Only U.S. citizens can vote in Federal elections. Most states also restrict the right to vote, in most elections, to U.S. citizens.  In addition to voting, U.S. citizenship opens the door to many job opportunities. This is because most jobs with Federal government agencies are available only to U.S. citizens.  Also, U.S. citizens can hold certain public offices that are not available to non-citizens, and naturalized U.S. citizens can run for most of these public offices (they cannot, for example, become President of the United States).

Ability to obtain federal grants and other government benefits

Many federal grants and scholarships are available only to U.S. citizens.

Protection from deportation / removal

Simply put, U.S. citizens are not subject to deportation, while non-U.S. citizens – including green card holders – are. It should be noted however, that, though rare, it is possible for a naturalized U.S. citizen to have his or her citizenship taken away. This process is called “denaturalization,” and former U.S. citizens may be subject to deportation from the United States after being denaturalized. Even more rare are the cases in which a natural-born U.S. citizen may “lose” his or her citizenship. This topic, however, is outside of the scope of this post, but more information on it can be found here. However, unless and until a U.S. citizen is denaturalized or “loses” his or her citizenship, he or she cannot be placed in removal proceedings and deported from the U.S.

Better options to protect and petition for family members

Both U.S. citizens and green card holders can file immigration petitions with the government to reunite with family members. However, U. S. citizens have more and better options to do so, and they can petition for more categories of family members than green card holders. In addition, in many cases the wait time is significantly shorter for U.S. citizens’ petitions. Finally, if certain conditions are met, certain children of U.S. citizens may automatically become U.S. citizens themselves even if they were not born in the U.S.

Traveling abroad for long periods of time

U.S. citizens can travel (or even live) abroad for unlimited periods of time without losing their citizenship status. On the other hand, green card holders who spend a long period of time outside of the U.S. risk losing their permanent resident status. Click here for more information about absence from the U.S. and abandonment of permanent residence.

Other advantages when traveling

In addition to unlimited traveling, holding a U.S. passport can often be convenient when traveling abroad, as many countries do not require U.S. citizens to obtain a visa to visit the country. Furthermore, a U.S. passport allows the holder to ask for assistance from U.S. Embassies and Consulates when traveling abroad.

In addition to the above, there are other advantages to being a U.S. citizen, such as Social Security and Estate Tax benefits or the fact that U.S. citizens are not required to update their address of residence with the government every time they move. All in all, being or becoming a U.S. citizen gives an individual many advantages, and foreign nationals should always keep into consideration the option of naturalizing to U.S. citizens, should they have the possibility to do so. For some additional information on U.S. citizenship, please click here.

About the Author

Alessandro Giordano

Alessandro Giordano is a multilingual and multicultural immigration attorney. Practicing out of Tampa, FL, he serves clients nationally and worldwide.

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