What is the Difference Between Naturalization and U.S. Citizenship?

Naturalization Process

The process of becoming a U.S. citizen is a long and complicated one. There are two main ways to become a citizen: naturalization and birthright citizenship. The Naturalization process is the process by which a foreign national becomes a U.S. citizen. 

Eligibility and the Naturalization Process

To be eligible for naturalization and go through the naturalization process, an applicant must meet certain requirements, including residency, age, good moral character, and English language proficiency. 

Birthright citizenship is automatic for anyone born in the United States or certain U.S. territories.

Frequently Asked Questions

The questions that follow will give you an overview of naturalization and birthright citizenship, and what you’ll need to do to become naturalized. 

1. What is naturalization?

Again, naturalization is the process by which a foreign national becomes a U.S. citizen. To become a U.S. citizen through naturalization, you must be at least 18 years old, have been a lawful permanent resident for at least five years, and have good moral character.

You must also be able to speak, write, and understand basic English. When you apply to become a U.S. citizen, you’ll take an English and civics test. Passing these exams isn’t required for all applicants who go through the naturalization process. Therefore, you’re exempt in certain instances.

For example, if you are 50 years old and older and have lived in the U.S. for 20 years, you don’t have to take the English exam. Likewise, if you’re 55 years old or older and have lived in the U.S. for 15 years, you don’t have to take the English language.

You may also be exempt from taking the civics test, based on the same criteria (your age and how long you’ve lived in the U.S.) This may also hold true if you are physically or mentally impaired.

2. What is birthright citizenship?

Birthright citizenship is the idea that anyone born in the United States or certain U.S. territories is automatically a U.S. citizen. If a parent or parents are citizens or lawful residents, their children are automatically citizens, too. The citizenship clause of the 14th amendment allows for automatic birthright citizenship.

The wording states that anyone born or naturalized in the U.S., and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are a citizen of the country and the state where they live. So, if you’re born on U.S. soil, you’re a citizen by right of birth. This holds true even if your parents are immigrants.

On the other hand, the U.S. may also consider you a citizen if you were born from parents, both U.S. citizens, outside the U.S., provided one of your parents resided in the U.S. during some point in their life.

3. How do I become naturalized?

If you’re a green card holder, which proves your permanent residency status, are at least 18 years old, and have lived at least five years in the U.S., you usually qualify for the naturalization process. 

You only have to live 3 years in the U.S. if you’re the spouse of a U.S. citizen. It’s also important that you have a good grasp of spoken and written English. Going through the process may take as long as a year or more if you don’t retain the services of an immigration attorney.

4. What are the benefits of U.S. citizenship?

There are many benefits to being a U.S. citizen, including the right to vote in elections, the luxury of traveling with a U.S. passport, and enjoying more benefits when applying for employment or enrolling as a student.

5. What are the limitations of U.S. citizenship?

There are a few limitations to being a citizen of the U.S., including the following: You must pay taxes. Also, you may be drafted into the military, although you can apply for an exemption if you have a disability. 

A Quick Review of the Naturalization Process

Once you show you’ve met the eligibility requirements, you’ll need to assemble the U.S. packet N-400. This package includes the application for naturalization and instructions. You’ll need to get a photocopy of both sides of your green card, two exact photo colors of yourself, with the application number and your name written on the back of each image in pencil, and payment for processing.

To ensure the naturalization process goes through with streamlined ease, you should work with an immigration and naturalization lawyer to make sure you’ve included all the proper information and legal documentation.

Naturalization Process

Contact the Rijal Law Firm to Apply for U.S. Citizenship

Whether you’re trying to get a green card, for permanent residency, or you wish to apply for naturalization, you’ll need legal representation. In the U.S., contact the Rijal Law Firm for more information about citizenship rights. Call today.

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