Naturalization is the legal process by which a non-citizen becomes a U.S. citizen. The term “naturalized citizen” applies to individuals—typically immigrants or their relatives—who have applied for U.S. citizenship and met the legal requirements established by Congress. The history of naturalization law dates to the founding of the country. Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution authorized Congress to “establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization.” Naturalization laws have changed dramatically since Congress passed the first law in 1790. The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, granted citizenship to all persons “born or naturalized in the United States,” including formerly enslaved people, and provided all citizens with “equal protection under the laws.” Applicants must fulfill a number of conditions to become naturalized, and they may lose their status and even be deported for criminal behavior, but are otherwise considered full American citizens. The one exception is that naturalized citizens are ineligible to run for the Presidency or Vice Presidency; those positions are reserved for individuals born in the United States and legally recognized as “birthright citizens.”
“Citizenship Through Naturalization.” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Accessed November 2, 2018, https://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-naturalization.
Eileen Bolger. “Background History of the United States Naturalization Process.” Accessed October 14, 2018, http://socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/federal/naturalization-process-in-u-s-early-history/.