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Lorenzo Law Group

Is there a difference between naturalization and citizenship?

November 18th

Is there a difference between naturalization and citizenship?

Certificate of citizenship vs. certificate of naturalization…what’s the difference?

There are countless terms to remember in the immigration process, and keeping track of them all can be confusing.

While these terms are slightly different, they also share a few key similarities. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to know whether you need to naturalize or obtain a certificate of citizenship—and how to apply.

What’s the difference between citizenship and naturalization?

There are both “certificates of citizenship” and “certificates of naturalization,” and they are slightly different.

Someone who acquires or derives citizenship from their American parents receives a citizenship certificate, while certificates of naturalization are given to immigrants who later become citizens.

The naturalization process is overseen by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which falls under the Department of Homeland Security.

Naturalization is available to foreign nationals who are at least 18 years of age.

However, typically when a child is born to US-citizen parents outside of the United States, that child is usually able to receive a citizenship certificate.

How do I naturalize?

If you are eligible to naturalize as a US citizen, your application begins with form N-400. Applicants must:

  • Hold a green card
  • Meet requirements for continuous residence and length of residence
  • Meet English language proficiency requirements for speaking and writing

Part of the application process requires you to attend an interview, undergo a course in civics, and in some situations, pass an additional language test.

If your application is approved, you’ll attend a naturalization ceremony and take the Oath of Allegiance to America.

Finally, you’ll receive your certificate of naturalization, which proves United States citizenship.

Do I have different rights as a naturalized citizen?

Whether you were born in the United States, born outside the United States and received a citizenship certificate, or later received a certificate of naturalization after immigrating, you have the same rights.

Naturalized citizens have the right to vote and the right to obtain a passport.

Naturalized citizens may never be deported or lose their citizenship, except in extremely rare cases where it’s proven that the applicant lied or committed fraud during their immigration process.

A citizen is a citizen, end of story.

How do I apply for naturalization?

Maybe you’ve reached the end of your immigration journey and you’re ready to apply for naturalization.

Maybe you’re just getting started and you’re wondering which immigration visa you should choose to enter the United States. Business immigration or family based immigration?

No matter where you are on your path to citizenship, we’re here to help. Contact us now for a consultation, and let’s get started.


Hi I'm Carlos Lorenzo, owner and lead attorney at Lorenzo Law Group. Immigration applications are tough, exhausting and confusing. Which is why I started this firm. We'll handle your case quickly, affordably, and accurately from start to finish. Reach out today and let's get to work.

*The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.

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