Updated November 26, 2010Immigrants to the United States who pass the civics examination and take the Oath of Allegiance to complete the naturalization process of achieving U.S. citizenship gain the full protection of the U.S. Constitution, along with rights and benefits denied even to immigrants with long-time legal permanent resident status.
Sponsorship of Relatives for Permanent Resident Status
Persons holding full U.S. Citizenship are allowed to sponsor their immediate relatives - parents, spouses and unmarried minor children - for U.S. Legal Permanent Resident (Green Card) status without waiting for a visa. Citizens may also, if visas are available, sponsor other relatives, including:
- brothers and sisters;
- unmarried adult sons and daughters; and
- married sons and daughters.
Naturalized U.S. citizens may possess a U.S. passport, are protected from deportation, and have the right to travel and live abroad without the threat of losing their Legal Permanent Resident status. Citizens are also allowed to re-enter the U.S. repeatedly without being required to re-establish proof of admissibility. In addition, citizens are not required to update their address of residence with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) every time they move.
Naturalized U.S. citizens become eligible for a wide range of benefits and assistance programs offered by the government, including Social Security and Medicare.
Voting and Participation in the Electoral Process
Perhaps most importantly, naturalized U.S. citizens gain the right to vote, and to run for and hold all elected government positions, except for President of the United States.
Note: All phases of the naturalization process and all laws regarding immigration and citizenship are administered by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS).