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New American citizens in North Carolina focus on family

Across the nation, thousands of international citizens are diligently working toward becoming naturalized Americans. Just last week, fifty-one such individuals realized their dreams as they took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America in Charlotte. While many expressed happiness for their personal accomplishments, others turned their focus toward reuniting with loved ones through family immigration.

Working toward American citizenship can be a long and arduous process and in the case of one new citizen, her journey to naturalization took 13 years. While some of North Carolina's newest Americans had the opportunity to undergo the naturalization process with the support of local relatives, others had to work through the process alone.

Becoming an American citizen through naturalization entitles new citizens to a myriad of rights and protections. Naturalized citizens may vote in elections and may hold public offices other than the presidency and vice-presidency. They may also apply for and obtain United States passports to facilitate travel. In addition to such personal rights, naturalized citizens may assist their non-citizen family members in securing travel documents such as visas and green cards with fewer hurdles than non-naturalized residents.

United States citizens, regardless of whether their citizenship is based on birth, blood or naturalization, may petition the government to allow various family members to legally enter and reside in the country. While different immigration forms apply for different familial relationships, citizens enjoy the right to participate in the family petition process in order to reunite with loved ones.

With more than 10,000 international citizens becoming Americans each year in North Carolina, interest in resources on family immigration will rise. Individuals who are pursuing citizenship through naturalization should understand their prospective rights and the benefits that may support their non-citizen family members that they will gain after becoming citizens.

Source: WCNC News, "Dozens become U.S. citizens in naturalization ceremony," Amy Cowman, March 27, 2013

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