It was another milestone in this amazing journey when I become a US Citizen through naturalization. I thank God for being there with me through it all.
I made it for the ceremony at the USCIS field office nearest to my base.
The first order of business was verifying that the 60 of us, going for the naturalization ceremony had filled our Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony properly. It’s basically a form confirming no changes to one’s marital status, foreign travel, criminal offences or violations, involvement in gambling, prostitution, or any illegal activity since the citizenship test.
Our green cards were then taken away. Then ceremony then got underway. The national anthem was sung. We watched a video of different people who’ve naturalized since America got its independence.
The immigration services officer then recognized the presence of 33 nationalities that were represented in the ceremony. From The Palestine, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Canada, Bangladesh, Burma, Afghanistan and even St. Kitt & Nevis..58 of us were changing names so a federal judge was presiding over the ceremony.
The Oath of Allegiance followed. We swore to renounce our former countries of birth or citizenship. We would bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America. We were now Americans. Just like that.
The federal judge gave a speech about all the anti immigration rhetoric going on in the presidential campaigns and how it doesn’t augur well with American history as a county of immigrants. The different cultures, languages, foods, dress, religions and much more had taught him a lot about the world outside of America while he was a student at Harvard University. It was a great speech.
A private from the US Army who was naturalizing too led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. A message from the President of the United States of America welcomed us into this great country.
The ceremony was over. We signed our Certificates of Naturalization, got voter registration forms and a package with the US constitution, passport application forms and the Oath of Allegiance.
My colleague had accompanied me for the ceremony. We had lunch and headed back to base. I managed to update my government records with the new names, ordered new name tags for my uniforms and even visited the local Social Security Administration offices. I was informed I had to wait for 10 days for USCIS to reflect the name change on other government agencies systems.
I can now start the process of filing an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for my wife.