Citizenship Vs Naturalization - What’s The Difference?
While the naturalization process is commonly referred to as gaining citizenship, it is important to clarify that naturalization itself does not automatically grant citizenship. Citizenship in the United States is a special status reserved for specific individuals. On the other hand, naturalization is a legal process through United States Citizenship And Immigration Services. This process involves meeting specific eligibility requirements, including residency and language criteria, and successfully completing the naturalization application process. Although naturalization grants citizenship to those who successfully navigate the process, it is crucial to understand that citizenship is a distinct status and is not automatically granted to all individuals who undergo naturalization.
When it comes to immigrating to the United States, it's beneficial for individuals to know the difference between the two terms. A US citizenship lawyer or US naturalization lawyer can help better individuals’ understanding of this distinction, which is highly beneficial, as it can save individuals time and money by ensuring they receive the right legal guidance tailored to their specific immigration goals. Goldstein Immigration Lawyers’ team of professionals are well versed in both citizenship and naturalization matters, therefore, individuals can:
- Smoothly navigate the immigration process
- Benefit from efficient handling of their case
- Have peace of mind knowing they are receiving expert guidance in the relevant area of law
Who Is Considered A US Citizen?
U.S. citizenship can be obtained through various methods, and it is essential to understand who is considered a U.S. citizen. If you were born within the United States or its territories, such as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, you are automatically recognized as a U.S. citizen. Furthermore, individuals may have "derived" U.S. citizenship if they were born outside the U.S., but at least one of their biological parents was a U.S. citizen at the time of their birth and had previously lived in the U.S. before their birth. If both parents naturalized to U.S. citizenship before the individual turned 18, derived citizenship may also apply. Consulting with a US citizenship lawyer is crucial to determine the applicability of these rules to your specific circumstances. While both the U.S. Certificate of Citizenship and the naturalization certificate serve as proof of U.S. citizenship, they represent distinct documents. The Certificate of Citizenship is granted to individuals who acquire or derive citizenship through birth to U.S. parents, while the naturalization certificate is issued to individuals who become citizens through the naturalization process overseen by USCIS.
The naturalization process provides a pathway for foreign citizens or nationals to acquire U.S. citizenship. To initiate the process, individuals must complete the necessary forms, particularly the N-400 form. It's important to note that eligibility for this form requires the applicant to already hold a green card. Essential criteria for naturalization include:
- You have maintained permanent resident status for a minimum of five years and fulfill all other eligibility requirements.
- If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you have held permanent resident status for at least three years and meet all the necessary qualifications to apply as a spouse of a U.S. citizen.
- You have served in the U.S. armed forces and meet all the additional eligibility requirements.
- If your parents are U.S. citizens, you currently reside outside the U.S., and you fulfill all other eligibility requirements, you may be eligible.
If you meet the eligibility requirements for naturalization, you can commence the process by completing Form N-400 through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This application is the initial step towards potentially obtaining U.S. citizenship.
Upon approval, successful applicants participate in a significant event called the naturalization ceremony. During this ceremony, they solemnly take the Oath of Allegiance to America, symbolizing their commitment to the United States. Following the ceremony, a certificate of naturalization is awarded, serving as official evidence of their U.S. citizenship.
Common Difficulties Faced During Naturalization Process
Obtaining U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process can be accompanied by various challenges and potential difficulties. Past mistakes, regardless of their magnitude, can have an impact on your eligibility. Fortunately, our team of expert naturalization lawyers is here to provide guidance and support. With their extensive knowledge and experience, they can identify and evaluate potential obstacles that may arise during the naturalization process. These challenges may involve issues such as:
- Allegations of domestic violence
- Restraining orders
- Other legal complexities
- Excessive time spent outside the U.S. as a permanent resident
- Involvement in ongoing criminal cases or conviction of disqualifying crimes
- Incorrect filing of U.S. taxes
- Failure to register for selective service
Additionally, common restrictions faced by applicants can include:
- Voting in U.S. elections as a permanent resident
- Failure to meet child support obligations
- Tax-related concerns
- Failure to register for selective service
- Extended periods spent outside of the U.S.
- Marital separation
By collaborating with an experienced U.S. naturalization attorney, you can effectively navigate these complexities, address any concerns, and improve your chances of successfully achieving U.S. citizenship.
To apply for naturalization and achieve U.S. citizenship, you must fulfill several requirements. These requirements include:
- You must be at least 18 years old and hold a green card for a specific duration
- This duration is five years if you have been a lawful permanent resident, or three years if you are married to and living with a U.S. citizen.
- You are required to pass an English test and a test on U.S. civics and history, with exceptions available for certain individuals.
- You have been maintaining a continuous physical presence in the U.S. and meeting the residency criteria, as these are crucial.
- Demonstrating good moral character
- Residing in the U.S. and the state where you file your application for at least three months
- Supporting the Constitution and the U.S. government are also essential
Although these requirements may appear straightforward, many applicants often misconstrue their eligibility. This is where the expertise of an experienced citizenship lawyer becomes invaluable. They can guide you through the process, assess your eligibility accurately, and address any concerns, significantly enhancing your chances of a successful naturalization application.
How A U.S. Citizenship Or U.S. Naturalization Lawyer Near You Can Help
Gaining citizenship through naturalization can be a complex process, but the support of a U.S. citizenship lawyer or a U.S. naturalization lawyer from Goldstein Immigration Lawyers can prove invaluable. These legal professionals possess extensive expertise in immigration laws, regulations, and procedures related to naturalization, enabling them to offer crucial guidance and assistance. Ways in which they can assist individuals through the naturalization process include:
- Determine Eligibility - First and foremost, a U.S. citizenship lawyer can help individuals evaluate their eligibility for naturalization. Through a comprehensive review of the applicant's background, including residency status, immigration history, and any potential eligibility challenges, a lawyer can identify any issues that may arise during the naturalization process, such as prior criminal records or immigration violations.
- Preparation of Documents - A U.S. citizenship lawyer or a U.S. naturalization lawyer can assist with the preparation and submission of the naturalization application. We ensure that all required forms, such as the N-400, are accurately completed and filed within the designated timeframe. Our lawyers play a vital role in gathering and organizing the necessary supporting documents and evidence, such as proof of residency, language proficiency, and good moral character. Their expertise ensures the application is thorough and presents a compelling case for naturalization.
- Legal Representation - Our US citizenship or naturalization lawyers provide valuable advice and representation throughout the entire naturalization process. They can help applicants prepare for the naturalization interview by conducting mock interviews, offering guidance on anticipated questions, and advising on appropriate conduct and demeanor. Furthermore, we assist in navigating any potential challenges that may arise during the interview or background check, safeguarding the applicant's rights and presenting their case in the most favorable light.
- Application Denial Support - In the event of a naturalization application denial or a request for additional evidence, a U.S. citizenship lawyer and a U.S. naturalization lawyer offer crucial support. They can identify the reasons for the denial or request, develop a strategy to address the concerns and guide the applicant through the appeals or reapplication process when necessary.
Overall, the expertise and assistance of a U.S. citizenship lawyer or a U.S. naturalization lawyer significantly enhance an individual's prospects of successfully obtaining citizenship through naturalization. Their comprehensive understanding of the legal requirements, ability to navigate complex procedures, and dedicated advocacy on behalf of the applicant streamline the process and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. Contact Goldstein Immigration Lawyers to see how you can benefit from having an immigration lawyer on your side.