If you seek to become a citizen of the United States, you may wonder whether naturalization and citizenship are the same things or how they differ. Read below to understand how naturalization may apply to you or your loved ones.
At The Santos Law Offices, PA, we help our clients in South Florida to immigrate to the United States and pursue citizenship. We guide them through the processes to legally establish themselves in the USA and pursue a prosperous future. Call our naturalization legal team at (305) 417-4111 today to schedule a free consultation over the phone or via Zoom, where we can discuss the next steps in your strategy to pursue U.S. citizenship.
What Is The Difference Between Citizenship and Naturalization?
Citizenship is a status you achieve when you become a citizen of the United States. You are already a citizen if you were born in the USA or have a U.S. Certificate of Citizenship. Some people can become citizens because their birth parents are in the United States. If your birth parent is a U.S. citizen, discuss these details with your attorney.
Individuals who are not eligible to become citizens through their birth parents will have to complete a naturalization process to achieve citizenship in the United States. The road to naturalization can begin when you become a lawful permanent resident. You must meet numerous eligibility requirements before applying and completing the process.
Eligibility for Naturalization in the USA
The essential requirements to be eligible for naturalization in the United States include the following:
- 18 years of age or older
- Lawful permanent resident in the United States for at least 5 years
- Prove good moral character
- Demonstrate basic English skills
- Pass a U.S. civics test encompassing the history and government of the United States
- Ability to take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States
However, various circumstances may affect your unique situation. We will address some of these in further detail below.
You Must Be a Lawful Permanent Resident For At Least 5 Years to Naturalize in the United States
A lawful permanent resident (LPR) has immigrated legally to the United States and attained a Green Card. Some people intentionally pursue lawful permanent resident status as the first step toward citizenship, whereas others do so without citizenship in mind. Regardless, the 5-year clock starts when you become a lawful permanent resident.
Exceptions to this requirement may apply if you have been granted refugee or asylee status. If your spouse is a U.S. citizen, your waiting requirement may be reduced from 5 years to only 3 years once you become a lawful permanent resident.
Passing the Civics Test and Proving Your Moral Character
You will need to pass a United States civics test that requires an understanding of U.S. history and government. You will take the test during your interview with USCIS. You can access free study materials on the USCIS website. You have two chances to pass the test before your attorney would have to appeal to request a third try. Failure on a third try would require you to restart the entire naturalization process, so it is vital to prepare appropriately to pass this test.
The moral character component of naturalization should not be a problem if you have good recommendation letters and do not have a criminal history or an arrest record. However, an arrest, a conviction, or more minor matters like speeding tickets can risk denial of citizenship and removal proceedings if you try to apply for naturalization on your own. Contact a South Florida citizenship and naturalization lawyer immediately if these issues apply to you. A sound legal strategy is imperative to reduce your risk of removal. Your naturalization attorney can advise regarding when you should apply to pursue citizenship.
You Must Be Able To Understand English to Naturalize
You will need to be able to read, write, and speak in English to pass the English Test as part of your interview at the USCIS. Like the civics test, you would have two chances to pass before an appeal would be required for a third try, and failure on a third try requires you to repeat the entire process.
Make use of study materials, and practice communicating in English daily if it is not your first language. There are limitless opportunities to gain a deep understanding of English by engaging with others in your local community.
Prepare Properly For The Naturalization Process
It is crucial to approach the U.S. naturalization process seriously. While you may have already started your 5-year wait after becoming a lawful permanent resident, this may still provide you time to study and prepare for your English and civics test.
Take care to keep your record clean during the time leading up to naturalization. Consult an experienced lawyer for citizenship if you have a criminal record or related legal concerns. Once you meet all the eligibility requirements, your attorney can help you proceed with your application and the rest of the 10-step naturalization process.
Work With an Experienced Naturalization Lawyer To Pursue Citizenship in South Florida
At The Santos Law Offices, PA, we are motivated to help our clients when they need it most so they can pursue a free and prosperous life. Seeking U.S. citizenship is an important and exciting step for you and your family. We understand what it is like to be in your position and are here to help you. Our clients are like family.
If you seek to become a United States citizen, don’t bother searching for “immigration law offices near me” in Miami, as the legal team at The Santos Law Offices is prepared to guide you along every step of the way. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced naturalization attorney in Miami, FL, call (305) 417-4111 today or fill out our online form. We offer free consultations via phone or Zoom, including Saturdays by appointment. Hablamos español.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.