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The Benefits of Becoming a U.S. Citizen

Video transcript:

VOICE: Every year some 700,000 people become U.S. citizens at naturalization ceremonies across the country. By taking the Oath of Allegiance you pledge to be faithful to the Constitution and to serve your new country when needed. In exchange you will enjoy many of the benefits and privileges [CHEERING] of being a citizen of the United States.

OFFICIAL: Well one of the most obvious benefits is the ability to vote. Only U.S. Citizens are allowed to vote in federal elections and in most state and local elections.

VOICE: In addition, children of new citizens who are under the age of 18 are automatically given U.S. citizenship. They also enjoy special privileges when it comes to bringing other family members to the country.

OFFICIAL: Permanent residents can bring family members to the United States, but the benefit of being a U.S. citizen is that U.S. citizens get priority when they want to bring immediate family members permanently to the United States.

VOICE: The United States protects its citizens abroad through its embassies and consulates, and that is another benefit of taking the Oath of Allegiance. The U.S. Government offers assistance to victims of crime overseas and can also assist with information on what to do if there is an emergency in the country you are visiting or living.

Other benefits include working for the federal government, the right to be a member of a federal jury, and access to certain types of academic scholarships available only to U.S. citizens.

There are several requisites to becoming a US citizen. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Servicesí website has several resources that can help you with the process.

OFFICIAL: Two major things that you can do: one, go to our website where we have all kinds of study materials. Or you can also attend one of our naturalization workshops which we run at offices throughout the country.

VOICE: This video was produced by in collaboration with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

How to Avoid Mistakes When Applying for Citizenship

The naturalization ceremony is one of the most memorable moments in the life of many immigrants. In this formal ceremony, a person pledges allegiance to the United States and becomes a naturalized citizen.

But getting there is not easy. There are appointments to keep and tests to take. The process can be long and it’s easy to forget a document or signature, which can lead to delays. Some mistakes might even cost the applicant hundreds of dollars in lost costs.

The following tips will guide you through the application process so that you can become a citizen as quickly and easily as possible.

Double check the application

One of the most common mistakes when applying for citizenship is filing the N-400 application with omissions or mistakes, according to Nancy Guerrero, an immigration officer with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS.

“A lot of people focus too much on studying the 100 questions on the citizenship test, but they sometimes forget to double check the application before filing it,” she said.

To avoid mistakes, she recommends applicants:

  • Go over the application in detail to make sure it was filled out correctly and truthfully, especially if someone else helped complete the form
  • Make sure to include all documents pertinent to the N-400 application such as copies of both sides of the legal residency card and two identical color photographs
  • Include the correct application fee in a check or money order

Send additional documents

Once the application has been sent and accepted by USCIS, the applicant needs to interview with an immigration official where he or she will take a test about US civic life, as well as a basic English competency test.

Guerrero says the immigration officer will give the applicant a letter at the end of the interview and might request additional documents. If that’s the case, the person needs to comply with the request within the specified time and include the letter he or she received. Otherwise, the application might be delayed.

“This will help the paperwork move a lot quicker,” said Guerrero.

Make sure you meet special requirements

Some immigrants are exempt from taking the English test and might even take the civic test in their native language. These exceptions are given to people who:

  • Are 50 years or older when applying for citizenship and have lived in the United States as legal permanent residents for more than 20 years
  • Are 55 years or older when applying for citizenship and have lived in the United States as legal permanent residents for more than 15 years

Immigration officials offer a word of caution for people who want to take advantage of these exceptions: don’t send in your application if you don’t fully meet the requirements, even by one day. They say they often get applications from people who are about to qualify. Unfortunately for them, the application is returned and the application fee is not refunded.

“This happens quite frequently,” said Guerrero.

You can learn more about how to prepare for the application process by watching this video that outlines the five most common mistakes people make.

If you are ready to apply for citizenship visit or call 1-800-375-5283.