Naturalization is the process by which someone acquires, after birth, a nationality that they previously did not hold. It requires an application by the person, or their legal agent, and the granting of nationality by a public authority, so naturalization does not include situations where nationality is automatically granted, such as birthright citizenship. Upon naturalization, an individual is a “naturalized [US] citizen.”
If seeking to promote the inclusion of naturalized citizens as full members of society, describing how someone obtained their citizenship should generally only be mentioned if necessary to the story, as it can “other” them in the eyes of the audience.
The United States can take citizenship away from those it has been granted to, a process called denaturalization. This does not mean someone will automatically be deported, but it does remove the legal protections of citizenship. It historically has been rare, though there have been some periods of exception. During the “Red Scare,” which peaked between 1950 and 1954, the government sought to take away citizenship from thousands of naturalized citizens via provisions of the Internal Security Act of 1950 that “stripped citizenship based upon political and antigovernment beliefs.” In 2018, US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a “denaturalization task force” aimed at stripping citizenship from those the government claimed had obtained it fraudulently. In 2020, the Justice Department announced a denaturalization division focused on “terrorists, war criminals, sex offenders, and other fraudsters who illegally obtained naturalization.”
- US Citizenship and Naturalization (US Citizenship and Immigration Services)
- 8 US Code § 1436 – Nationals but not citizens; residence within outlying possessions (Cornell Law School)
- Denaturalization, explained: how Trump can strip immigrants of their citizenship (Vox)
Naturalization is the conferring of the nationality of a state upon a person after birth. If seeking to promote the inclusion of naturalized citizens as full members of society, describing how someone obtained their citizenship should generally only be mentioned if necessary to the story, as it can “other” them in the eyes of the audience.