While many people have heard of the term naturalization, few truly understand what it is, and how it affects immigrants. Naturalization refers to the legal process where an immigrant is able to acquire citizenship in a country. Often, they will need to fill out an application in order to begin the process. Prospective citizens usually have to take an oath, pledging loyalty to the country and agreeing to be law-abiding citizens. Additionally, some countries require you to renounce any other citizenships in order to maintain loyalty to the one country you are trying to be a citizen of.
There are different processes for naturalization in each country. For example, the United States (US) requires applicants to have lived in the US for at least 5 years before applying. Additionally, applicants have to take an English literacy test and be knowledgeable about US history and governmental structures. They will also be evaluated for their moral character, by having their record compared to an average US citizen to see if they meet the general standards. Finally, applicants must be in concord with the US government, and the US constitution meaning previous affiliations with groups like the Communist party or an authoritarian regime will be considered while evaluating an applicant.
In other countries like China, the requirements are a little bit different. Prospective citizens must have a parent of Chinese nationality who has not taken citizenship in any other country. They can also have a relative in China, or provide a good reason as to why they need Chinese citizenship. They must submit a written application along with required documentation as seen fit. Some countries even require people to reside in the country for a great number of years before allowing them to apply for citizenship. Germany requires prospective applicants to live in Germany for at least 8 years with a residence permit, Italy requires 10 years, and Grenada requires 7 years.
While naturalization sounds like a great opportunity, it is not always the path that immigrants choose to take. The officials looking at your application will be searching through your entire history, and checking all your documents ever since you arrived in the country, meaning they will be checking each and every immigration benefit you have received and you can be denied citizenship and even deported if they find something is off. They might even look into your records from your country of origin. Additionally, there are high costs that are associated with naturalization including the application process and having to learn the language of the country and any history in the case of countries like the US where you will have to take a test. However, many immigrants do choose to naturalize and are able to live successful lives afterward.