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What are the benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen?

There are many benefits to becoming a citizen of the United States and for those who are permanent residents in South Carolina or any other state. One critical benefit is that only citizens are allowed to vote in federal elections and, in some cases, only citizens are allowed to vote in state elections as well. Naturalized citizens are also allowed to run for certain federal political offices.

Furthermore, a citizen is allowed to bring in family members from other countries and the children of citizens are also citizens regardless of where they are born. They may also be eligible for help from the United States government while traveling abroad. While being a full-fledged member of the country is a great honor, there are many steps that must be completed prior to earning citizenship.

The first step is to fill out Form N-400 or Form N-600 for those who are in the country and are under the age of 18. Form N-400 is an application for naturalization while Form N-600 is a certification of citizenship for those who were granted citizenship through their parents when they were children. After completing and filing the required form, it may take up to six months to complete the naturalization process.

Anyone who is eligible to become a United States citizen may start the naturalization process at any time. Those who are looking to become naturalized or wish to certify their citizenship status may wish to talk to an immigration attorney for assistance. With the help of an attorney, it may be possible to complete the naturalization process as efficiently as possible without causing any unnecessary delays. Once the process is complete, newly naturalized citizens are entitled to the rights and benefits that all other citizens are entitled to.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Services, "A Guide to Naturalization," accessed on Jan. 12, 2015

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