What is the Difference Between Naturalization and Citizenship?

Navigating the transition to a new life in a different country is an intimidating task. Trying to make sense of the different distinctions and requirements can feel insurmountable, but we are here to help you. We can help you figure out what you need to do to attain citizenship while complying with the legal precedents set before you.

What is the difference between Naturalization and Citizenship?

Citizenship is the overarching definition for “belonging” to a nation. Citizenship is determined by the origin of your birth, or your parent’s birth. Naturalization is the alternative route to obtaining citizenship. A country is not only composed of those born there, or born to parents who were born there. Those who have immigrated and followed the proper channels and procedures may become naturalized citizens. Naturalized United States citizens enjoy the same rights and responsibilities of those who were born citizens.

Requirements for US Citizenship:

You must either be born in the United States, or a territory of the United States. You may also be born outside of the United States with a parent who is a United States citizen, naturalized, or other.

Requirements for Naturalization:

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, and a lawful permanent resident in the United States for at least 5 years (3 years if you are married to a U.S. Citizen). Applicants must maintain a residence in the United States for 5 (or 3) years prior to filing, and through the application process. You must live in the United States for 30 out of 60 months prior to filing your application for Naturalization. Applicants must file in the area they live, comprehend English, and demonstrate “good moral character” throughout the naturalization process.

What do you gain from citizenship or naturalization?

You gain the following benefits:

  • US Passport for Travel purposes
  • Voting
  • Running for Office
  • Federal Jobs
  • Law Enforcement Jobs
  • Federal Services
  • Jury Duty
  • Citizenship for Children
  • Being a Lawful Permanent Resident for other Family Members

The Process of Naturalization

The process begins with filing a form N-400, Application for Naturalization. You will be asked for photocopies of your Lawful Permanent Resident Card (Green Card). You will also need to provide the fee for the application, and any biometric appointment fees which may be due.

You will be asked for an interview, fingerprints, and a background check will be completed. If you are invited to an interview, bring your appointment notice with you. The process and timeline for an application decision can take about 8 months to a year, sometimes longer. You may receive a denial, and your letter of denial will dictate whether or not you can appeal and how to do so. If you are approved, you will receive an appointment to take the oath of allegiance at USCIS as you accept the responsibility of United States citizenship.

How we can help

Law Office of Christine Contreras provides exceptional service and expertise for many who seek citizenship and naturalization. We know the law, we know the process, and we can help you navigate. If you are preparing your N-400, or awaiting a response, do not hesitate to contact us for a consultation!