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

As Pennsylvania residents may know, the transition from being a foreign national with the right to reside legally within the United States and U.S. citizenship is called naturalization. While it may take effort, there are considerable benefits involved. It also allows individuals to become an intricate part of the country they wish to call home.

One of the benefits a U.S. citizen has is the ability to vote in an election. This right in a democracy allows citizens to voice their desires by electing officials who may have a similar outlook. Federal elections restrict voting to U.S. citizens.

Becoming a U.S. citizen eliminates the risk of deportation. It also means that an individual is able to leave the country for travel or work and return without the possible need of qualifying again for eligibility and admissibility. A passport issued by the United States provides protection and assistance to its holder by the U.S. government abroad.

Another benefit of becoming a citizen is the ability to petition for and sponsor family members to come to the United States. There is a structured system in effect for foreign nationals to become lawful permanent residents, but if a naturalized family member sponsors them, their application receives priority. In addition, a child born to a U.S. citizen may be considered a citizen. Citizens are also able to apply for federal job vacancies. In addition, being a U.S. citizen makes the individual eligible to run for elected office.

The process of naturalization begins with filing of a citizenship application for this purpose. Prior to filing, it is important to determine if one is eligible and, if so, complete all steps involved. Having the assistance of an attorney well-versed in the legal requirements of the process may be beneficial.

Source: Department of Homeland Security, "A Guide to Naturalization ", Accessed on Jan. 12, 2015

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