National identity is a person’s identity or sense of belonging to one state or to one nationality. It is the sense of a nation as a cohesive whole, as represented by distinctive traditions, culture, language and politics. National identity may refer to the subjective feeling one shares with a group of people about a nation, regardless of one’s legal citizenship status. National identity is viewed in psychological terms as “an awareness of difference”, a “feeling and recognition of ‘we’ and ‘they'”
As a collective phenomenon, national identity can arise as a direct result of the presence of elements from the “common points” in people’s daily lives: national symbols, language, the nation’s history, national consciousness, and cultural artefacts.
The expression of one’s national identity seen in a positive light is patriotism which is characterized by national pride and positive emotion of love for one’s country. The extreme expression of national identity is chauvinism, which refers to the firm belief in the country’s superiority and extreme loyalty toward one’s country.
Citizenship is defined as the status of being a legal member of a particular country. A citizen of a country is someone on whom all the social and political rights of the country are conferred upon. For example, citizens of the U.S. have the right to live, work and take part in the civic life. They also need to pay taxes as citizens of the country.
Those born on U.S. soil are natural born citizens. Those who are natives of other countries and who obtain U.S citizenship through a process called naturalization are called naturalized U.S. citizens. They are the people who choose to make the U.S. their adoptive homeland. Both, naturalized citizens and natural born citizens enjoy the same citizenship rights and protections. Those born within the country, need not file applications or go through special processes to obtain citizenship. They are citizens of America by default as the country is their birth place. But this is not the case with those who choose to make the U.S. their adoptive home. They will have to go through a lengthy process to become citizens of the country. This includes understanding the country’s laws and history and assimilating into the country’s culture.
Naturalization is a multi-step process that they need to go through, the first step of which is to become a legal permanent resident (green card holder) of the U.S. Only a person who holds a green card can apply for citizenship once he or she meets certain citizenship requirements.
Following are some requirements for filing an application for naturalization:
• Hold lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. for five years
• Establish continuous residency in the country
• Prove that they are of good moral character
• Demonstrate physical presence
• Prove that they are attached to the principles of the U.S. Constitution
• Show willingness to pledge the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S.
The U.S. has always welcomed immigrants and the country values the contributions made by them. To become a U.S. citizen is not an easy decision one can make. This could be one of the most important decisions in a person’s life. Those who decide to make the U.S. their homeland, will need to show their commitment and loyalty to the constitution of the U.S. and also be willing to serve the country. The U.S. will in return reward them with all the rights and privileges that are conferred upon natural born citizens and that are a part of U.S. citizenship.