February often evokes sentimental feelings toward our loved ones as Valentine’s Day bring heart-shaped greeting cards and chocolate-covered treats. For some of the millions of legal permanent residents (LPRs) living in the United States, these feelings of love all year long inspire them to pursue U.S. citizenship.

While every LPR who naturalizes has a unique motivation for doing so, several family-focused benefits accompany U.S. citizenship. So love of family can be a powerful influence.

Family Reunification

U.S. citizens generally receive priority when petitioning to bring family members permanently to this country. Citizens can sponsor parents, spouses, and children under the age of 18 to live in the U.S. as permanent residents. Although waiting periods may be longer, citizens also can sponsor and bring other relatives, such as siblings and adult children, to the U.S.

Protecting Your Child’s Future

Children greatly benefit from parents who become U.S. citizens. Children are U.S. citizens at birth if one of their parents is a citizen, and children under the age of 18 may be entitled to U.S. citizenship when one parent naturalizes. The benefits of citizenship for children are innumerable and long lasting, ranging from access to public benefits to academic scholarships.

Visiting Family Overseas

U.S. citizens can travel overseas without worrying about losing legal status in the U.S. or obtaining a re-entry permit to the U.S. While LPRs can lose their legal status if they leave the country for long periods of time, U.S. citizens aren’t restricted on the time they can spend outside of the U.S. This allows individuals to visit freely with family members living in other countries. An added benefit to traveling with a U.S. passport is the access to government assistance if needed overseas, as citizens are protected abroad through embassies and consulates.

Some may take for granted that we’ll get to spend Valentine’s Day with loved ones, but for new citizens, love of family can take on new meaning.