The terms "citizenship" and "naturalization" are often used interchangeably despite having different legal meanings. This common mistake — one that is frequently made by lawyers — is an example of how difficult it can be to navigate immigration issues without assistance from an experienced immigration attorney.
At Rodriguez Bell & DiFranco Law Office, LLC, we are careful to explain all aspects of U.S. immigration laws and procedures accurately and in terms that are easy to understand. We assist individuals with both citizenship and naturalization matters, as well as a wide variety of other immigration concerns. It is important to understand the distinction between the two.
Naturalization refers to the process by which someone who is not a citizen becomes a citizen.
Citizenship refers to a legal status that someone acquires through the actions of his or her relatives and by meeting certain requirements. It is also referred to as derivative citizenship. There is no application process to complete derivative citizenship, but you may need to acquire documentation.
What You Need To Be Eligible For Naturalization
To be eligible for naturalization, you must meet some basic qualifications:
- You must be 18 or older.
- You must be a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. for a minimum of five years. The residency requirement is reduced to three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen, and there are exceptions for individuals who have honorable service in the U.S. armed forces.
- You must have been physically present in the U.S. for more than half of the required residency period.
- You must be able to read, write and speak English, and pass a test in basic U.S. history and government.
Additional requirements include demonstrating that you are of "good moral character." This will include an examination of your criminal record. Conviction of a drug offense, violent crime or even drunk driving may disqualify you from completing the process.
How We Can Help
While it is true that some people complete the naturalization process without legal assistance, many others who go it alone encounter difficulties, delays and outright denials because of the mistakes made on the forms or a misunderstanding of the requirements.
Each individual's situation is unique. We provide candid assessments and candid legal counsel. If your case is straightforward, we will tell you as much and show you how to complete the process on your own. If there are complexities or possible challenges, we will help you navigate the process, often for a flat rate or with a flexible payment plan.
In addition to assisting you with paperwork and filing documents, we will help you prepare for your interview with an official from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and will prepare you for the English, history and government tests that you must pass.
We Have Offices In Columbus And Cleveland
We work with clients in Greater Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio, from our two office locations. We welcome the opportunity to help you complete the naturalization process or with any other immigration matter. Call or email us to schedule a free consultation.