Many many many many (and many more) moons ago, I was an exchange student in the US. Something I can share more about at a later stage, but it was an amazing year and experience. I made some friends that I still have contact with today.
During my first adventure in the US, I felt and knew that I one day would come back to live here, and always felt at home here.
When I was offered an opportunity in 2011 to move here with my family with work, it was an offer we could not refuse.
Our journey started with a work permit, then it moved to a green card.
The paperwork for the green card process is not for the fainthearted. Thankfully my company’s legal team helped us, and that made it a lot easier. That said, they do need to know a lot about your past and many pages to complete.
Despite the number of forms to be completed, it is a good process and it vets out people who are not ready to become US citizens. It’s thorough and will intimidate you as at any time they can decide you are not worthy and the green card might be denied.
Next goal for us was to become US citizens but that would take patience and time.
Before you can apply for citizenship, you have to be on a green card for five tax-paying years. And, it is important that you stay away from crime and voting. Either of these will impact your opportunity to become a citizen as it violates the green card rules.
As soon as we fulfilled these requirements, we submitted applications for naturalization.
Now, you can decide to get an immigration lawyer to help with the paperwork, but if you have a good understanding of English language (reading and writing) then the forms are not complicated … and you save money on legal fees.
During the naturalization process, you have to take a knowledge test, a written test, and an interview. Neither which are complicated, although you should spend time studying the test exam questions. They provide you a booklet and have a great app for it.
The test basically asks questions about the US government, history and other important common knowledge about the country you are about to join.
The written test is to make sure you are proficient in the English language; reading and writing.
The interview is about your application and the data provided. You’ll be fine!
Long story short, we made it to the interview which is the last hurdle, and we passed it too. It was a huge relief to get the letter saying you are approved for citizenship, and now you just had to wait to be invited to the Oath Ceremony … the Big Day!
I received my invitation first, unfortunately, I fell seriously ill as you might have noticed in the blog site 🙂
I actually had to get a doctor’s note from my cardiologist and send the letter to the Immigration Services so they could see I was legally excused and thewy would reschedule.
My wife had her ceremony on November 2018 and was a proud new American. The kids automatically became US citizens when one parent takes the Oath, as long as they were under 15. It might be 18 but you should check with Immigration Services to be sure.
Because of my illness, I had to brace myself with patience, and hope the rescheduling would come soon. A friend of mine, who works as an immigration lawyer, informed me that it could take 3-12 months to get rescheduled, but it would happen.
Late July I finally received my invite, and I joined the long list of people who had taken the Oath and became a US citizen.
It was a very proud day for me, and emotional.
Start to finish, it took us six years to achieve the status of American, but absolutely a journey well worth taking. It is a privilege to become American and you are now part of the greatest nation on the planet.
My ancestors, the Vikings, arrived at these shores well before 1492, with perhaps less honorable intentions. Now it is my turn to settle here and build our family history here.
People who attend these ceremonies and achieve citizen status are visible proud and honored, to be there. We bring our families, we cheer, we say the pledge and we shake hands with legislators. It is an awesome experience.
It is an honor to be accepted. People who get accepted should honor their new home, and become proud Americans.