While most people are well aware of the rights that come with becoming a U.S. citizen, there are also very distinct responsibilities that accompany this status. While these responsibilities are fairly common sense in most respects, it is still foreseeable that not being aware of certain requirements could land you in trouble later on in life. While a list is given to you when you naturalize, it is important that you truly understand each item, be it a perk or an obligation.
The Rights of Naturalized Citizens
Of course, once you become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you enjoy all the same rights as a person who was born in the country. You are entitled to all Constitutional rights, such as the right to vote, the right to an attorney under the Fifth Amendment (in certain instances, immigrants are not entitled to be represented by an attorney unless they pay for the service), and the unfettered right to employment, including government jobs and other potentially sensitive positions that are not open to non-citizens. You are also entitled to more intangible benefits such as specifically enumerated freedoms you may not have enjoyed in your former country.
However, from an immigration standpoint, citizenship does confer one important benefit. Unlike lawful permanent resident (LPR, or “green card holder”), status, citizenship can only be revoked if one of a few select situations occurs. Sec. 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets the criteria out in detail; essentially, a citizen must either have committed fraud on their initial application, leading to revocation, or they must do something that falls under the statute “with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality.” This gives quite a bit of leeway. For example, a naturalized U.S. citizen from South Korea might return home to serve in the military if a war broke out between North and South Korea. However, since the war would not be against the United States or its interests, it is unlikely that person would be held to have given up their citizenship.
Suggestions and Responsibilities
The other side of the proverbial coin is, of course, the obligations that every U.S. citizen must perform. Some of the items listed are more common sense, more understandable suggestions meant to be remembered, such as the exhortation to ‘support and defend the Constitution,’ but some are active requirements for citizen life that must be pursued affirmatively.
The most commonly cited is to register for the Selective Service if you are male (though in June 2016 the Senate approved a law that would require women to register as well), as well as to serve on a jury if you are called to do so. Both of these are requirements, punishable by loss of opportunity and by possible fines or jail time in some situations. The rationale is that both of these actions may be integral to the defense of the country and its way of life; as such, every citizen who fits the criteria may be required to participate (some citizens are exempt, such as those over a certain age, those with developmental or mental impairments, and so on).
Contact An Immigration Attorney
If you are interested in naturalization, or if you have questions about your part in the process, it is generally a good idea to seek experienced counsel. The passionate Chicago naturalization attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are happy to help you decide which option may be best for you going forward. Call us today to set up an initial appointment.
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