What are the Obligations of a U.S. Citizen?

Updated on April 4, 2024

At a Glance

  • U.S. citizens, by birth or naturalization, have obligations to the United States.
  • Obligations include supporting and defending the Constitution, staying informed, participating in the democratic process, and obeying laws.
  • Citizenship responsibilities also involve respecting others’ rights, paying taxes, serving on a jury, and defending the country if necessary.
  • These responsibilities contribute to the well-being and functioning of the nation.

The number of people who wish to obtain U.S. citizenship keeps growing as many individuals learn that they have new opportunities in the States. Obtaining citizenship is not easy but once someone gets it, they are ready to work towards their dreams and a better life. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean a U.S. citizen doesn’t have obligations.

So, if you want to discover the obligations of a U.S. citizen, keep on reading.

Are New U.S. Citizens Under Obligation to the United States?

Just like U.S. citizens born and raised in the U.S., foreigners who obtain citizenship have obligations. The United States is known to welcome people from all over the world to join their country by becoming citizens. Even if they’re not born and raised in the States, naturalized citizens are still an important part of the U.S. and will continue to be so. That being said, all citizens have their benefits and rights.

But when you apply to become a citizen, you should be aware of your responsibilities once you become naturalized, just like you’re surely aware of the benefits. If you apply, it means you are demonstrating that you are committed to the U.S. and the government.

Obligations of a U.S. Citizen

You may be one of the immigrants dreaming of living in the United States and having the same rights as someone who’s lived in the U.S. their entire life. However, if you want that, you also need to know your obligations as a citizen. Becoming a citizen is a big commitment. So, if you are planning to apply, make sure you are aware of the following obligations and agree to them.

Support and Defend the Constitution

When you become a citizen, you are taking an oath to support and defend the constitution. Considering that you obtained citizenship, it means you love your new country and swear allegiance and loyalty to it. To do that, the constitution needs to be supported and also defended when necessary.

Therefore, one of your responsibilities, once you become a naturalized citizen, is to support and defend the constitution of the United States, no matter what.

Stay Informed of the Issues Affecting Your Community

Once you become a citizen, it is one of your obligations to always be aware of the issues that are affecting the community you’re part of. The same goes for international and national issues. Being aware of these aspects will help you in numerous situations and will avoid any bad consequences for you.

Being active in the civic process is just as important.

Participate in the Democratic Process

Participating in the democratic process means you are going to vote. This is more of a voluntary responsibility, as you won’t be literally held at gunpoint to be forced to vote. However, the citizen has to participate in the democratic process, which includes getting involved with voting and registering to vote whenever an election is taking place. You are participating in the government by doing this.

Not to mention that you are helping maintain the democratic representative system of government. You have a voice as a citizen, and it’s important to use it. Others wish they had the same right as you do.

Participating in the democratic process doesn’t just refer to voting, though. It also means getting involved in the causes or political campaigns you have faith in. If you’re a citizen and you strongly believe in a campaign or cause, why not use your voice and make a difference? It’s your right in a democratic society. Your involvement could help a lot and make a big difference.

Respect and Obey Federal, State, and Local Laws

This should go without saying, but obeying all laws is mandatory. As a citizen, you are obliged to respect the federal, state, and local laws. If you break any law, you agree to pay any penalty that occurs as a result of your law breach.

Respect the Rights, Beliefs, and Opinions of Others

People are different. Accepting the uniqueness of everyone else is something that should be more insisted on, as all people have their own beliefs, rights, and opinions. Having different ideas or coming from different backgrounds doesn’t mean you should be disrespectful to each other and cause a big fuss.

All U.S. citizens have to respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of other people. This means that all opinion differences, ethnic groups, cultures, and religions should be respected, and you should not discriminate.

Considering the United States is a country where people from all cultures or backgrounds can be met pretty much everywhere, it’s a very important consideration. If you apply for citizenship, ensure that you are ready to treat everyone with respect even when you’re different or disagreeing on something.

Participate in Your Local Community

All citizens are part of a community and when you obtain citizenship, you have the responsibility to participate in it when necessary. Community involvement means you participate in the well-being of the respective community you’re part of. Therefore, you agree to offer your help when needed or use your knowledge and talents to contribute to various projects, committees, or organizations.

Pay Income and Other Taxes Honestly, and on Time, to Federal, State, and Local Authorities

Everyone deals with taxes, and as a U.S. citizen, you have the obligation to always pay them. In one way or another, all citizens deal with federal, state, local, property, Social Security, or sales taxes. You have to pay them on time.

After all, your taxes will help fund various programs and services, such as roads, schools, police and fire protection, national defense, Medicare, and others. These would be pretty much impossible to maintain without the taxes paid by people. Whether you use these programs and services regularly or not, paying taxes on time is an obligation.

Serve on a Jury When Called Upon

Another responsibility of a U.S. citizen is to serve on a jury when called upon. This means that you have a right to a trial by jury. Basically, a jury will be drawn by lot from the general population of citizens from a certain jurisdiction. As such, when randomly summoned to jury duty, it is necessary to be available.

Citizens may be called upon to be a witness during trial too, and if you are called, then you have the obligation to appear and testify under oath.

Defend the Country If the Need Should Arise

You agree to be loyal to the country, and as such, it means you also agree to the obligation to defend your country when required. Once you become a citizen, this is going to be one of your responsibilities.

What are the legal obligations of a U.S. citizen?

Legal obligations of a U.S. citizen include obeying all federal, state, and local laws, paying taxes accurately and on time, serving on a jury when summoned, and registering for the Selective Service if you are a male aged 18-25.

Are U.S. citizens required to vote in elections?

While voting is a fundamental right and civic responsibility, U.S. citizens are not legally required to vote in elections. However, participation is highly encouraged as a vital part of democratic engagement.

What are the responsibilities of U.S. citizens in regards to jury duty?

U.S. citizens have the responsibility to serve on a jury when summoned. Jury duty is essential for ensuring a fair judicial process and is considered a fundamental civic duty.

Do U.S. citizens have an obligation to defend the country?

U.S. citizens may have an obligation to defend the country if called upon. Males between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register for the Selective Service, which is used for drafting individuals into military service if necessary.

Are there any obligations regarding community participation for U.S. citizens?

While not legally required, community participation is seen as a civic responsibility for U.S. citizens. This includes engaging in local governance, community service, and other forms of civic engagement.

What is the responsibility of U.S. citizens in respecting the rights of others?

U.S. citizens have a responsibility to respect the rights and beliefs of others, including freedom of speech, religion, and the right to privacy. This respect is fundamental to maintaining a free and democratic society.

Is it an obligation for U.S. citizens to stay informed about political and social issues?

Staying informed about political and social issues is considered a civic responsibility for U.S. citizens. Informed citizens are better equipped to participate effectively in the democratic process.

What are the obligations of U.S. citizens in terms of environmental conservation?

U.S. citizens are encouraged to engage in environmental conservation as a part of their civic duties. This includes following environmental laws, reducing waste, and participating in conservation efforts.

Are U.S. citizens required to display patriotism?

While displaying patriotism is not a legal requirement, it is often seen as a civic duty. Forms of patriotism can include respecting the flag, participating in national holidays, and showing respect for national institutions.

What are the responsibilities of U.S. citizens in supporting and respecting the government?

U.S. citizens are expected to support and respect the framework of the government and its laws. Critically engaging with government policies and participating in the democratic process are part of this responsibility.

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The rights and obligations of a U.S. citizen are important and all aspiring citizens need to know about them. You have to agree to each of these obligations before applying for citizenship. If you don’t obey some of them, there may be consequences, and that’s something you want to avoid for sure. Hopefully, our article was informative, and you are now ready to submit your citizenship application, become a citizen, and obey the responsibilities.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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