Module 2: Learning About Who Applies for Naturalization

This module will provide you with a basic understanding of who is applying for naturalization and the benefits and privileges of U.S. citizenship.

Where Do Most Naturalized Citizens Come From?

The table below shows the top twelve countries of origin of naturalized citizens in Fiscal Year 2018 (PDF) as reported by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics.

Fiscal Year 2018 Top Countries of Origin
Country Number of Naturalized Citizens
Mexico 131,977
India 52,194
China 39,600
Philippines 38,816
Cuba 32,089
Dominican Republic 22,970
Vietnam 21,082
Colombia 17,564
El Salvador 17,300
Jamaica 17,213
South Korea 16,031
Haiti 14,389

Does Every Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card Holder) Have to Apply for Naturalization?

Becoming a U.S. citizen is a personal choice. Not every permanent resident (green card holder) chooses to become a U.S. citizen. A person can remain in the United States as a permanent resident as long as that individual keeps his or her permanent resident status current and does not commit an act that makes a person removable from the United States under immigration law. While living in the United States, permanent residents have certain rights and must adhere to certain responsibilities.

Why Do People Want to Become Naturalized U.S. Citizens?

Below are some of the benefits and privileges of U.S. citizenship:

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

  • Serving on a jury. Only U.S. citizens can serve on a federal jury. Most states also restrict jury service to U.S. citizens.

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

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

  • Obtaining citizenship for children under 18 years of age. In most cases, a child under 18 years of age can derive citizenship from a naturalized parent.

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

  • Becoming an elected official. Only citizens can run for federal office in the U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives. Only citizens can run for most state and local offices as well.

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

  • Becoming 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.

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

Summary

This module was designed to provide you with general information on who is applying for naturalization. As a volunteer, you may serve people from many different countries who speak a variety of languages. You can relay information about the benefits and privileges of U.S. citizenship so that learners can make an informed decision on choosing to become a naturalized citizen.

USCIS Resources

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