Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security

As a permanent resident, you have most of the rights of U.S. citizens. However, there are many important reasons to consider U.S. citizenship. Citizenship offers new rights and privileges, but comes with equally important responsibilities. As a citizen you can:

  • Vote. 
    Only citizens can vote in federal elections. Most states also restrict the right to vote, in most elections, to U.S. citizens.

  • Serve on a jury. 
    Only U.S. citizens can serve on a federal jury. Most states also restrict jury service to U.S. citizens. Serving on a jury is an important responsibility for U.S. citizens.

  • Travel with a U.S. passport. 
    A U.S. passport enables you to get assistance from the U.S. government when overseas, if necessary.

  • Bring family members to the U.S. 
    U.S. citizens generally get priority when petitioning to bring family members permanently to this country.

  • Obtain citizenship for children under 18 years of age. 
    In most cases, a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen is automatically a U.S. citizen.

  • Apply for federal jobs. 
    Certain jobs with government agencies require U.S. citizenship.

  • Become an elected official. 
    Only citizens can run for federal office (U.S. Senate or House of Representatives) and for most state and local offices.

  • Keep your residency. 
    A U.S. citizen’s right to remain in the United States cannot be taken away.

  • Become eligible for federal grants and scholarships. 
    Many financial aid grants, including college scholarships and funds given by the government for specific purposes, are available only to U.S. citizens.

  • Obtain government benefits. 
    Some government benefits are available only to U.S. citizens.