USCIS document

Citizenship vs. Naturalization: What You Need To Know

Citizenship and naturalization are both ways for immigrants to permanently remain in the United States. Many people assume they hold the same advantages when this simply is not the case.

There are three main ways an individual can become a U.S. citizen:

  • Being born in the United States
  • Being born abroad with U.S. citizen parents
  • Applying for naturalization


Naturalization is the process by which a lawful permanent resident can transition to citizenship in the United States. There are a number of possible classifications an individual can fall under to become eligible for naturalization:

  • The applicant has been a lawful permanent resident for at least five years
  • The applicant has been a permanent resident for at least three years and can file as a spouse of a citizen
  • The applicant lives abroad but has parents that are U.S. citizens
  • The applicant has qualifying service in the United States military

The next phase of the process includes an interview to take the English and civics test. If these are passed, the applicant may take the Oath of Allegiance at the naturalization ceremony. Once naturalized, a naturalization certificate is the only document necessary to prove citizenship.

Understanding Citizenship and Naturalization

The difference between citizenship and naturalization is often over-complicated. Naturalization is simply the process of a foreign immigrant becoming a United States citizen without being born in the United States. Those who gain citizenship by naturalization are afforded the same inalienable rights as a U.S.-born citizen.

These include the right to:

  • Vote
  • Receive a United States passport
  • Apply for federal work that requires citizenship
  • Run for elected office

These individuals cannot have their citizenship revoked nor can they be deported.

Contact Our Houston Team for Immigration Assistance

If you would like to learn more about how you can become a United States citizen, don’t hesitate to contact us today through our website or give us a call at (713) 286-7182 to schedule your consultation!