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Diary on Becoming a US Citizen


This is an ongoing diary of our experience seeking US citizenship. For technical information check out USA Immigration FAQ's. For information regarding dual nationality go to Britain in the USA: Consular Information.

Week 1 - Attended a workshop on how to become a citizen.

We can apply ninety days before the fifth anniversary of our becoming resident aliens which is next month. Before we apply we must have our fingerprints taken at an authorized facility and have two photograhs of a specified size. We submit these, the application form and $95. It will take about six months before we are given an interview at which time we will take an oath and be asked 10 questions about US history taken from a list of 100 (these are attached to our application forms). At the interview we will be asked what name we wish to have on our certificate. It can be anything we want and it will be our legal name. We have two chances to pass the interview. Once we pass the interview we will be given a date to attend the swearing-in ceremony. After that we will be US citizens. We must wait until we are citizens before we can apply for citizenship for our son.

Week 3 - Finally called about photos and fingerprints.

We decided to go somewhere that does both. I called to make an appointment but they informed me that they do not take appointments so we will just have to take our chances and turn up on Saturday. I predict that this will be the first long line of many that we will spend our time in during this whole process.

Week 4 - Had fingerprints and photos done.

Went on a Friday afternoon and were pleasantly surprised that we were the only people there. We had the photos taken first (no jewelery, must show right ear and left eye). One of the photos will eventually end up on your certificate so you may want to avoid the deer caught in the headlights look. We then had our fingerprints taken. These have to be done well or they will be rejected (25% are rejected). The fingerprints are put into a sealed envelope with a form by the person taking them, you must not open this envelope. It cost $37 for both of us and we were told we should send them in within 30 days.

Week 6 - Filled out the forms.

They were pretty straight forward, not the usual cryptic government forms. You need to include a copy of your green card, photos, fingerprints, and a note if you want your interview at the same as someone else (for example, my spouse and I have requested our interviews at the same time). Oh yeah, and don't forget the $95!

Week 6 - Dropped forms off.

The INS office opened at 7:30am, I got there at 7:45am (I couldn't find it) and the line was all the way outside. I waited for a while but my son was going to be late for school so I asked the guard at the door if there was a drop box and there was. I put a stamped addressed envelope in with the applications so that they can send me a receipt. (Note: The guard said each application was supposed to be in a separate envelope but I only had one. However I had written separate cheques and carefully separated and clipped each set of papers together so he said it should be okay.)

Week 9 - Called INS

After two and a half weeks we had no receipt, the cheques weren't cashed, and we were worried that they may not have received the application (considering the "drop box" was on open cardboard box at the front of the room). I called the INS and after waiting on hold for an hour was told-off by the person on the other end for being impatient. Apparently it takes about 45 days for them to look at it and send your receipt! He also said that right now it takes about 9 months to get an interview.

Week 13 - Receipt Arrives

The receipt finally arrived, 47 days after handing the forms in.

Week 21 - Cheques Cashed

The cheques have been cashed at last so things are proceeding (slowly). A friend sent hers to a different office and they cashed her cheque very quickly, the receipt however is still taking an age.
I can also confirm, through an acquaintance who just got an appointment, that it is taking nine months to get an interview.

Week 73 - Still Waiting

Well you can disregard the last entry as it is now 15 months since we handed in our application. Our friends have heard nothing either, and they never did receive a reciept. A few articles have appeared in the newspapers about the length of time it is taking. The latest estimate is 16 months.

Week 80 - Letter Arrives

The long awaited letter has come (it took 17 months). My interview is next week; they only gave me 6 days notice. I had requested my interview be at the same time as my husbands but he did not get a letter so it looks like I'm on my own. I'm going to be busy this weekend learning the 100 questions, especially the 13 original states. Wish me luck!

Week 81 - Interview

I arrived early and was told my interview had been changed to an office across the street. Arrived at the new office and put my paperwork in the tray. Waited .....waited ....... waited...
The office was packed but most people were waiting for cards of some sort. The people who arrived after me were called in (grrrr), I think every time they shuffled the papers mine went to the bottom. I finally got called in and the interviewer said, "Oh, have you been waiting since 11:10."
Pledged to tell whole truth and nothing but the truth. He went through every item on the original form I sent in then asked me to write a simple sentance. I had to read two sentances then answer a few questions. One was about the number of senators, and the senators from my state. Also, Chief Justice of Supreme Court and who would be President if the President and Vice President died. I can't remember the others. He said I passed and that I would get a date for my swearing-in ceremony in the mail. I asked how long it would take and he replied that it could take up to 3 months!
It wasn't so bad (except for the wait) and the interviewer was very friendly. My husband still doesn't have a date. I asked about it and they said it was very unusual for interviews to be given together, even if it's requested.

Week 83 - Letter Arrives

Only seven days after my interview I recieved a letter telling me my Oath Ceremony will be on Friday, three days away.

Week 83 - Telephone Call

Someone called to make sure I can make it on Friday as it is such short notice.

Week 83 - Naturalization Ceremony

I arrived at 1:20 for the 1:30 ceremony. We were told to dress appropriately so I ditched the usual jeans and dressed-up for the occasion. Parking was horrendous and there was a long line to get in (surprise, surprise). I gave them my green card, collected my little flag and sat down. About 15 minutes later we were told that the ceremony would not start until 3:00. I chatted for a while to a girl from Mexico (none of my family could make it) and finally we were told to stand for the judge. A local high school color guard did the honors during the national anthem, then an INS official gave us some statistics for the day. There were 450 people taking the oath from 54 countries and only six people were no-shows. A man from a local citizens group gave a very nice speech then we all stood to recite the oath. The judge gave a speech and called out the name of every country represented. We were told to stand when our country was called; there was only one other person from the UK, at the other end of the room (glad I dressed-up). Most people were from Mexico and The Phillipines. We all stood again for the Pledge of Allegiance and it was over. We collected our certificates on the way out. I guess this calls for a party!

Week 91 - Interview #2

My husband finally had his interview. All went well. He was scheduled for first thing in the morning and was actually called in early!

Week 94 -Ceremony #2

Hubby is now a yank too. Now we need to start all over with the kids!

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