To become a citizen, you must be willing to swear your loyalty to the United States, must give up your allegiance to any other country (Brazilians have the option to keep double citizenship) and agree to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. When you become a citizen, you accept all of the responsibilities of being an American. In return, you get certain rights and privileges of only citizenship can have.

So why Become a U.S. Citizen? Permanent residents have most of the rights of U.S. citizens, but there are many important reasons to consider becoming a U.S. citizen. Here are some good reasons:

• Voting. Only citizens can vote in federal elections

• Traveling with a U.S. passport. A U.S. passport enables you 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 born abroad. In most cases, a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen is automatically a U.S. citizen.

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

• Keeping your 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.

The process of becoming a U.S. citizen is called “naturalization.” You can apply for naturalization once you meet the following requirements:

Live in the U.S. for at least 5 years as a permanent resident (or 3 years if married to and living with a U.S. citizen); Be present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the past 5 years (or 18 months out of the past 3 years if married to and living with a U.S. citizen); Live within a state or district for at least 3 months before you apply. You may have to follow different rules if: you obtained permanent residence through the 1986 amnesty law or are a refugee. You, or your deceased parent, spouse, or child, have served in the U.S. Armed Forces; or still if you are a U.S. national.

* If you are eligible and consider to becoming a U.S. Citizen, a good alternative to save a few hundred of dollars is doing the process style “Do-It-Yourself”. The help and orientation of an lawyer is always recommended. If you need a recommendation and you are in California, will be our pleasure to recommend you an lawyer that we know his work and/or have worked for us. Call us at (805)245-5615.

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