Written by Avvo Staff

4 things to do after becoming a US citizen

An overview of your rights, responsibilities, and next steps

After taking the Oath of Allegience you’ll receive a Certificate of Naturalization, declaring you a citizen of the United States. It’s the proof you need to take advantage of all the rights and responsibilities US citizens enjoy.

Rights of US citizens

Your certificate of nationalization entitles you to the same rights as all US citizens, including those mentioned in the Declaration of Independence: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Other rights you can now enjoy include:

  • Freedom of expression
  • Freedom to practice the religion of your choice, or no religion at all
  • The right to vote
  • The right to run for elected office (except President or Vice President of the US)
  • The right to apply for a federal job that requires US citizenship
  • The right to a fair trial by jury

Responsibilities of US citizens

Along with your rights come responsibilities:

  • Obey the law.
  • Serve on a jury when needed.
  • Respect the rights and beliefs of others.
  • Pay your taxes, including income, sales, and any others.
  • Support the Constitution, which awards you many of your rights.

To do: Get a passport

Even if you don’t plan to leave the country soon, you can get a US passport to prove your citizenship and as an extra form of ID.

You should receive a passport application in your US citizenship welcome packet. If not, you can find it on the State Department website.

You need these things to apply:

  • Your completed application. Do not sign it until asked to at the acceptance facility.
  • Two passport-style photos. Many drug stores and photo shops offer this service.
  • Your certificate of naturalization.
  • The appropriate fees. As of 2016 these are $110 plus a $25 execution fee for an adult passport book.

Sometimes the State Department accepts passport applications after the naturalization ceremony. You can also apply at any passport acceptance facility. Some of these facilities will also take your passport photos on site. It usually takes about 6 weeks to get your passport by mail.

To do: Update Social Security records This is important because it affects your eligibility for jobs, government services/benefits and more. You’ll need to visit a Social Security office and bring these things:

  • Your certificate of naturalization or your new US passport
  • Your driver’s license or other picture ID
  • A completed Form SS-5

After you’ve done this, update your I-9 to let your employer know you are now a citizen.

To do: Register to vote

It’s not required, but voting is an important right that gives you a voice in shaping your new country’s future. You have several options for registering:

  • In person at public assistance, election, or voter registration offices
  • By mail
  • At the DMV when you apply for (or renew) your drivers license

Many states also allow online voter registration.

To do: Get certificates of citizenship for your foreign-born children

Children under age 18 who are lawful permanent residents often become citizens automatically when their parents naturalize.

To get proof of their citizenship, submit an Application for Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-600) on their behalf. You can also apply for passports for them.

To do: Sponsor family members for green cards

US citizens can sponsor immediate relatives for permanent residency. To do this, you’ll need to submit the application on their behalf to prove your relationship and show your income is enough to support the person.

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