Becoming a US citizen is the lifetime dream of millions of individuals spread around the world. To become a US citizen, green card holders must apply for naturalization. In this article, you will discover what naturalization means. 

US Naturalization vs. US Citizenship Acquisition – Understanding the Difference 

Many people tend to confuse the terms “naturalization” and “citizenship.” Naturalization is the process by which foreign-born individuals living in the United States as permanent residents are granted US citizenship. 

US citizenship is granted to individuals born in the United States (or a US territory) or born to parents who are US citizens. Only individuals older than 18 years old can apply for naturalization. Conversely, the acquisition of citizenship is obtained before the age of 18. 

For example, if a French-born individual becomes a lawful permanent resident in the United States and decides to apply for naturalization, he will become a US citizen based on his eligibility and compliance with the requirements in the process. 

If the same individual marries a US citizen and the couple has a son, the child does not have to go through the naturalization process, as he acquires US citizenship through their parents. 

US Naturalization – Eligibility Requirements 

Individuals interested in applying for US naturalization must meet the list of requirements established by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). There are three basic requirements for applicants, which are: 

  • Being at least 18 years old 
  • Being a permanent resident in the United States (green card holder) 
  • Having lived in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years  

Determining someone’s eligibility for US naturalization involves several other questions. Consult with an expert immigration attorney to identify whether you qualify for US naturalization.  

Applying for US Naturalization – An Overview  

After determining you are eligible for US naturalization, the first step is to fill out Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization) with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  

When submitting the application, you must submit the required support documentation and a filing fee. The process also involves the payment of a biometrics fee.  

Examples of supporting documents include a copy of the applicant’s green card, a copy of the applicant’s marriage certificate (if applicable), and a copy of military orders (if the application is based on the applicant’s service). 

Once the applicant’s petition is approved, USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment, a process that requires digital signing, photographs, and fingerprints. It is fundamental to attend the appointment at the right time, date, and location defined by USCIS. 

The applicant must also go through an interview. During the interview process, a USCIS official will determine the applicant’s English proficiency and submit him or her to a civics test. 

Depending on the applicant’s success or failure to pass the test, USCIS will issue a final decision on the petition for naturalization. If the applicant receives notice that the petition was “granted,” he or she is approved for US citizenship. 

The last step is to take an Oath of Allegiance at an official ceremony to become a US citizen. After the process is over, the new US citizen receives a Certificate of Naturalization. 

Do You Want to Apply for US Naturalization? – Contact Attorney Romy B. Jurado Today 

Get in touch with Attorney Romy B. Jurado today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] to schedule a consultation.