Oh Say Can You See!

May 25th, 8:00 am—The incessant alarm goes off several times before the snooze button stops working. It was THE day. No more green card, no more stopping my whole traveling group at the border of Mexico because of my passport, and no more government job denials! I would like to say that the experience was wonderful and a process worth going through, but let’s just say it wasn’t the smoothest ride.

For those not familiar with the citizenship process, let me give you the low down. After living in the country for a certain number of years, you become eligible to apply for citizenship. You pay a hefty amount of money to send your application in, of course,  which contains every move you have made for the past 9 years (in my case), and then it goes out for processing for a couple of months. Then, you go take a hideous picture at Immigration Services, where they proceed to take your fingerprints and “Alien” number, and get a study book. My appointment date was set: May 25th, 2011.

I am sure most of us have heard different things about the test, ranging from American’s inability to pass it, to one of the easiest tests known to mankind. Let me put the rumors to rest. In my study booklet there were 100 questions divided into two categories:  American History and Government (stay tuned for some sample questions). Basically, you are only verbally tested on 10 of them and if you get 6 correct, you pass. 6% of the total knowledge and you are in!

So, here I was in my business attire waiting for the heart stopping second when my name was called to the interview room. A young woman, who wanted to smile (I could sense it) but wouldn’t butchered my name and escorted me through some double doors.

“It says here that you left the country to go to Peru in 2007 and 2009, how long were you there?” she quizzed me as she held my application papers in front of her. Seriously lady? I don’t even know what classes I took last semester and you’re asking me about trips out of the country.

“Well, I went to a wedding, and… let me think, I went during my Thanksgiving Break, cause, you know, I’m still in school. Wait, you don’t care about that” Yeah, that’s exactly what I sounded like, but I could tell I was getting her closer to that smile for sure. Then the anticipated part began: THE test. Instead of babbling about how that went, let me give you a chance to reassure yourself of your citizen status —>

Although I passed the test with excelling qualities, my interviewer still happened to find a little hole in my paperwork.

“Before I make my decision, I am gonna need you to go to the courthouse and get an official stamp for this paper”

A hole that required me to rush off the premises (not a story to remember) and dig for an official court disposition of some sort. So, in the blazing heat, I drove to the courthouse, desperate to make it back in time for the 1 o’clock pledging ceremony. Lucky for me, they take everyone’s phone upon entering the court, so after that, I was on my own. I stood in 3 different lines, with 3 different rude people, and 3 dead ends that led me to the right place where the documents I needed had been lost for 2 years. Of-freaking-course.  I cried to the lady at the counter, explaining that I HAD to become a citizen that day, but all she could do is give me a missing file report. Thanks.

“Just cry to the interviewer” my mom advised as she heard me freaking out on the other side of the phone. I finally got back, at 12:15 (my greatest accomplishment because I didn’t want to wait until 3 for the other ceremony), and got escorted to the back again. Officer Herbert, was not impressed with my “missing file report” and told me that she had to speak to her supervisor before going any further. Of course. Long story short ( sort of), I got a giant APPROVED stamp on my application that day. No, of course I didn’t make the 1 o ‘clock ceremony like I wanted, but at least I was able to call myself an American that afternoon. I pledged an oath to the United States from the first row of Homeland Security and got my Naturalization certificate high school graduation style. Of course, I went in for the hug and let me tell you, she loved it.

May 26th, 2011—I am an American Citizen.

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