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Naturalization Processes in the USA and the UK Research Paper

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Updated: Jan 26th, 2022

Introduction

Naturalization is an elaborate procedure that contains many elements. There are many definitions, which are used to clarify the concept. It is crucial to perceive the values, which naturalization supports, and the essence of it so that to understand the notion. According to Gregory Batalova (2013), “naturalization, which is the process by which immigrants take citizenship in their country of residence, extends to foreign-born nationals the same rights and responsibilities as those held by the native-born” (para. 1). Thus, the author implies that one should not view naturalization as an artificially gained right for residence in a foreign country, but rather a natural process of becoming a lawful citizen of a new country. The boundaries as well as the rules of naturalization vary with a country and are stipulated by the policies that act in this country.

This research paper outlines the major differences and similarities between the process of naturalization in the USA and the UK. Specifically, it dwells upon the eligibility rules and the specifications of the procedure in two countries as well as the reasons that cause them.

Naturalization Eligibility

The general rules that have to be followed by the claimants on legal citizenship in the USA and the UK are quite similar. However, some differences between the naturalization eligibility rules in the two countries may be outlined. Thus, to become a legal citizen of the USA, one must:

  • be minimum 18 years old;
  • be a resident of the United States for the last five years;
  • have some general knowledge of the American constitution and government;
  • possess a good moral character, which implies having no recent criminal records;
  • be proficient in the English language (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2015).

The prerequisites for becoming a citizen of the UK coincide with the American ones in all aspects that are mentioned above. However, the regulations that govern the citizenship tests are stricter in the UK. Thus, to become its citizen, one is required to provide either an ESOL qualification at Entry 3. Moreover, one is supposed to provide proof of the accomplishment of Life in the UK Test (Government UK, 2015).

In both countries, the time of the permanent residence that is required for receiving official citizenship differs according to whether a claimant is married to a citizen of one of these countries or not. For those applicants, whose spouses are U.S. or UK citizens, the term of the previous residence should be a minimum of three years instead of five (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2015).

However, there is one naturalization eligibility issue, which is peculiar only for the U.S. This is an allowance for official citizenship for the claimants who belong to the U.S. Armed Forces. The individuals who sustained their military service at the time of World War I, World War II, Korea (1950-1955), Vietnam (1961-1978), Persian Gulf (1990-1991), and on September 11, 2001, also have some benefits while applying for citizenship (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2013).

The Comparison of Application Processes

The application for receiving official citizenship in the USA and the UK differs. In the United Kingdom, one has three ways to apply for British citizenship: making an individual application, using the Nationality Checking Service, or using an official representative. In the USA, claimants use the single standard method of implementation. This method consists in completing the particular form N-400 of “Application for Naturalization” and sending it to the USCIS Lockbox Facility Service.

As for the time in which the naturalization is sustained, it varies not only with a country but with a particular location as well. In the USA, USCIC is steadily improving the quality of its services. Thus, the general term of naturalization is approximately six months in America (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2013). Decisions about such applications in the UK are made in 6-7 months.

Therefore, there are some consistent differences between how the Americans and the British apply for receiving official citizenship in their respective countries. Still, in both countries, naturalization takes six months.

Struggle for Belonging: U.S. Transnationalism vs. British Restrictive Politics

Ethnic and race conflicts have always been the factors that dictated immigration policies in every country of the world. The matter of ethnic belonging is a natural stimulator of any relations between the members of every multiethnic community. According to Martin Marger (2014), “when people share what they believe to be common origins and experiences, they feel an affinity for one another” (p. 8). Thus, the immigrants, who do not belong to particular ethnic or race communities, are traditionally perceived by the natives as intruders. Consequently, the acting immigration policies in any country should comply with fundamental human rights. Moreover, it is a direct responsibility of every state to establish the best possibilities for the accommodation of those citizens, who become naturalized in a country.

American naturalization policies differ from the respective British policies in many aspects. The primary characteristic feature of the immigration standards in the UK is its restrictiveness. According to the findings of the article that analyzes the migration tactics of the UK, the British government tends to link the terrorist acts to the process of naturalization. Thus, after the 9/11 attack that happened in the USA in 2011, the parliament of Great Britain securitized migration, so that to evade similar acts in the UK. Accordingly, the British tactic gained the status of “the politics of exception”, which means that this country establishes quite severe naturalization policies. It helps the government to control the flow of immigrants, to exclude any potential threats that could endanger the natives of the UK (Huysmans & Buonfino, 2008).

The naturalization politics of the USA has the opposite direction. The immigration reform that was established in the country in 1965 gave a strong push to millions of immigrants from the whole world to settle in the American states. This change was directed upon the reuniting of immigrant families and drawing skilled labor to the country. In this time, many highly proficient workers as well as people, whose spouses lived in the U.S., received an official allowance to inhabit the country. As a result, according to Douglas Massey (2008), “by 2000 there were over 30 million foreign-born persons in the United States” (p. 2). Today, America turned into an enormous multiethnic continent that attracts an enormous number of people from the whole world.

For a long time, many scientists were making attempts to single out the key point in the process of naturalization, which determines the direction of immigration politics. In 2012, an analysis of the citizenship tests was held. The primary aim of this research was to investigate the differences between the tests that were accepted in the UK and those that were acting in Canada. As a result, the following conclusion was made: “the Canadian test remains an instrument to promote naturalization and integration. In contrast, in addition to promoting civic integration, the British test is also an instrument of immigration control” (Paquet, 2012, p. 243). Despite this conclusion does not allow to make any judgments about the U.S. citizenship tests, it, however, points out what the tool of sustaining immigration politics is. Besides, it supports the idea of the restrictive tactics that are applied by the British government so that to ensure the control of migration flows.

Conclusion

Understanding Cultural Values through the Process of Naturalization

In this paper, a comparison between the naturalization processes in the USA and the UK is sustained. In the aftermath of this study, one can claim that there are some consistent differences between the application processes in these countries. Thus, the British government offers three ways of applying, while, in America, there exists only one standard way of applying for citizenship. The terms of processing applications are approximately equal in both countries. Quite similar are the documents that are usually prepared by the claimants for citizenship in the UK, and the U.S. One may deduce that America favors the military servants and gives them much preference in the process of naturalization. Besides, both countries provide some benefits to those, who are married to the citizens of the respective countries.

There is, however, a significant difference between the processes of naturalization in the UK and the U.S. since these countries have opposite values and view immigration in different ways. While the U.S. holds a status of a multiethnic continent, it sustains friendly migration politics. In contrast to it, the United Kingdom supports restrictive policies and imposes many limitations upon the process of naturalization, which is evolved through the content of the British citizenship tests.

References

Batalova, G. (2013, October 24). Naturalization trends in the United States. The Online Journal of the Migration Policy Institute. Web.

Government UK. (2015). British citizenship, UK, 2015, (Catalogue No. 672.1). Web.

Huysmans, J., & Buonfino, A. (2008). Politics of exception and unease: Immigration, asylum and terrorism in parliamentary debates in the UK. Political Studies Journal, 56(4), 766-788.

Marger, M. (2014). Race and ethnic relations: American and global perspectives (10th ed.). Boston: Cengage Learning.

Massey, D. (2008). New faces in new places: The changing geography of American Immigration. Manhattan, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

Paquet, M. (2012).Beyond appearances: Citizenship tests in Canada and the UK. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 13(2), 243-260.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (2015). A guide to naturalization, USA, (Catalogue No. M-476). Web.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (2013). How do I apply for U.S. citizenship? USA, (Catalogue No. M-565B).

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