What's the difference between Immigration and Naturalization?
While both terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between the concept of immigration versus the concept of naturalization. Understanding the difference between the two is not only important when you're an immigrant who is looking to come to the United States, but it's also important that every citizen understands how the two differ so we can have a better idea of what it means to become a naturalized citizen versus simply immigrating to the U.S.
Naturalization is about gaining political access.
In its strictest definition, naturalization is the process by which a person becomes a citizen and gains access to political institutions. In order to be naturalized, an applicant must first meet certain criteria for citizenship. Typically, that will include the following:
- You must be eighteen years of age.
- You must be able to understand and speak English
- You must be a lawful, permanent resident of the United States for at least five years before applying for the naturalization process.
- You must be physically present in the United States for at least five years at the time of application.
- You must be of good moral character.
Once it is determined that you meet these qualifications, you must complete an application, attend an interview, and pass an English and civics test. Once you successfully complete all of these steps, you will take an oath of allegiance before being officially declared a U.S. citizen.
An immigrant is simply any foreign citizen lawfully living in the U.S.
The process of immigration is used to describe anyone who is not an American citizen that is attempting to live and work in the U.S. Many immigrants will have specific documents like a green card or a work visa that will grant them the opportunity to lawfully live and work in the U.S. Having a green card or work visa does not, however, mean you are a naturalized citizen.
Put Your Trust In My Experience
At the end of the day, you can never underestimate the impact that an experienced immigration attorney can have when it comes to handling your case. Over the years I've helped countless individuals through a variety of different immigration and naturalization matters, and I'd be happy to sit down and discuss the individual aspects of your case with you. I know what it takes to help you navigate both processes, so if you or someone you know is in need of legal help with an immigration or naturalization issue, call the Law Offices of David Coates, PC today.