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What are the differences between naturalization and citizenship?

Immigration has become a challenging issue in Ohio. People who want to come the United States, live and work are increasingly facing roadblocks and questions about their status. The current political climate aside, there are still fundamentals about citizenship and naturalization they should understand to achieve their goals. Doing so legally is a vital aspect of the process. If a person follows the rules, they can still become naturalized and achieve citizenship. For this, it is wise to have legal assistance from the start to ensure the information the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requires is provided.

Naturalization, citizenship and eligibility

First, it is important to know what naturalization and citizenship mean. If a person wants to become a citizen, naturalization is the process they must follow to achieve that. It is that simple. Naturalization is a means to an end. Citizenship means that the person has reached legal status to live in the United States. The individual can take the steps on his or her own to achieve citizenship or it can be through relatives. Alternatively, this is called derivative citizenship. For derivative citizenship, it is not necessary to go through the application process, but documentation might be necessary.

There are requirements to be naturalized. They include being 18 or older; being a legal permanent U.S. resident for at least five years or three years if the person is married to a citizen; be physically in the U.S. for more than half the required duration; and to speak, write and read English as well as pass a basic civics test. Criminal records will be scrutinized and if the applicant is found not to meet the requirements of having good moral character, the application might be denied. The level of criminal activity is key. Violence and drugs are severely problematic, but any kind of criminal conviction could be a challenge that must be overcome on the road to U.S. citizenship.

Having legal assistance can help with the process

A mistake frequently made by people who are seeking U.S. citizenship is to go through the process on their own and not seek legal assistance. Families and individuals who are trying to become citizens should do whatever they can to avoid mistakes that can hinder or completely end reaching the desired goal. A law firm that is experienced and skilled with immigration matters may be able to provide guidance and advice to avoid pitfalls that can upend the attempt to gain citizenship. Consulting with those who have a history of helping with naturalization and citizenship can be a vital component of legally living and working in the U.S. as a citizen.