US Citizenship: Process & Responsibilities

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has an M.A in instructional education.

U.S. citizenship is open to those over age 18 who have permanently resided in the U.S. for 5 years, and requires that the naturalization process be complete. Learn the steps included in the process, as well as the responsibilities and mandatory duties expected of U.S. citizens. Updated: 11/04/2021


Being born and raised in the United States, I must admit I often take my citizenship is for granted. Sadly, I'm guessing I'm not alone. In today's lesson, we'll hope to remedy this a bit by taking a look at the process many go through to become U.S. citizens. We'll also explore the responsibilities and duties that come with such a great privilege.

For starters, the process of becoming a U.S. citizen is called naturalization. The process of naturalization is available to those over 18 who have permanently resided in the U.S. for 5 years. However, if a person is married to a U.S. citizen, they are eligible after three years of residency.

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  • 0:02 Naturalization
  • 0:40 Procedure
  • 1:25 Responsibilities
  • 2:05 Mandatory Duties
  • 2:54 Lesson Summary
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A person applying for citizenship must fill out Form N-400. This is the application for naturalization. They will then be subject to background screening and finger printing.

Next, the applicant for naturalization will be interviewed by U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services. Known as the USCIS, this government entity deals with naturalization and citizenship issues. During this interview, the applicant will take English proficiency and civics tests. The civics test is comprised of questions ranging from national heroes like Martin Luther King Jr. to questions about the Constitution.

Once the interview and the tests are passed, the hopeful candidate will take the Oath of Allegiance. They will then take part in the naturalization ceremony, which officially grants citizenship.


Stepping away from the naturalization process, let's take a look at the responsibilities of each and every citizen. According to the USCIS, it's a citizen's responsibility to support and defend the United States Constitution.

Citizens should also participate in the democratic process. Stated simply, a citizen should vote! Not only should citizens vote in national elections, they should also be informed about the issues affecting their local communities. Unfortunately, many citizens disregard these responsibilities. However, because this is the land of the free, there are no official penalties leveled for disregard.

Mandatory Duties

On the contrary, there are a few mandatory duties, which if shirked, will land a citizen on the wrong side of the law. For instance, every citizen must obey federal and state laws. This is not a suggestion; it's a requirement!

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