Your Rights and Responsibilities As a New US Citizen

Immigrants Sworn In As American Citizens At Naturalization Ceremony
John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Becoming an American citizen with all the freedoms and opportunities the nation has to offer is the dream of many immigrants.

Those who are fortunate enough to be in a position to pursue naturalization gain the same rights and privileges of citizenship as natural-born American citizens except one: Naturalized U.S. citizens are not eligible for the offices of the president of the United States and vice president.

With these new rights, citizenship also brings with it some important responsibilities. As a new U.S. citizen, it is your duty to you give back to your adopted nation by fulfilling these responsibilities.

Rights of Citizens

  • Vote in elections: While voting isn't mandatory, it is a vital part of any democracy. And as a new citizen, your voice is as important as every other.
  • Serve on a jury: Unlike voting, jury duty is mandatory if you receive a summons to serve. You might also be called be called to be a witness at a trial.
  • Fair speedy trial if accused of a crime: This right is technically is also extended to non-citizens.
  • Bring family members to the United States: Once you become a citizen, you can sponsor other family members to join you as green card holders. While green card holders can sponsor only a spouse or child to live with them in the United States, citizens can also sponsor parents, siblings, or other relatives.
  • Obtain citizenship for children born abroad
  • Travel with a U.S. passport: More than 100 countries allow American citizens to travel inside their borders for a specific amount of time without a visa if they have a U.S. passport.
  • Run for federal office: Once you are a U.S. citizen you are qualified to run for any local, state or federal office, except president and vice president of the United States. Those two offices require a person to be a natural-born citizen.
  • Become eligible for federal grants and scholarships
  • Apply for federal employment that requires U.S. citizenship
  • Freedom to express yourself: Again, this freedom is granted to non-citizens and visitors in America as well, but as a new citizen, it is now enshrined as a special right.
  • Freedom to worship however you wish (or to refrain from worship): As said before, this right is granted to anyone on American soil, but as a citizen, you can now claim the right as something all your own.
  • Registering with Selective Service: All males ages 18 to 25, even if non-citizens, must register with Selective Service, the program used if a military draft is ever re-initiated.

Responsibilities of Citizens

  • Support and defend the Constitution: This is part of your oath taken when you became a citizen. You now bear your allegiance to your new country.
  • Serve the country when required: This could represent taking up arms, noncombat military service or "work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law," according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Participate in the democratic process: More than just voting, this involves getting involved in causes or political campaigns you believe in.
  • Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws
  • Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others: This is a bedrock of American society.
  • Participate in your local community: Your fellow citizens need you as much as you need them.
  • Be informed on issues that affect your community
  • Pay local, state, and federal income taxes honestly and on time