Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Alien No More

When my husband was still in the service and we were deployed in Korea,  fellow Filipinos there advised me to  apply for citizenship there because it is easier, they say.  The idea toyed in my mind for a while but since my husband was always busy with work, and I was not ready to give up my  Filipino citizenship yet, we abolished the idea of applying there.  When we came back here in 2010, I planned to  apply but then I got cold feet again and said that I will  do it the next year, then the next year.  In 2012, I filled out my application but stored  it away.  It was only last year that I decided to  really push through my plan.  After all, I have been living  here in the US for almost 9 years now so I was ready to give up my former citizenship.

Here's the timeline of my  application process:
  • I sent my application on the last week of July
  • August 7th - I received a notification from USCIS  that they  received my application already. Application Fee is $680
  • August 14th - I got my appointment for Biometrics
  • September 4th - I did my Biometrics at Application Support Center  in Pittsburgh.  This is located in Penn Avenue.  MY appointment was 1 but we went there early as we did not know where it was.  We got done  so quick.  Since no photos allowed, I did not bring my camera in my purse, I left it in the car.  I should have  brought it and took pictures outside the  USCIS building hehehe.  Bummer.
  • November 14 - I had my Interview.  I was  a nervous wreck lol.  Although I literally memorize every page of the book that they gave me to study on, I was still nervous because of 100 questions that you learned in the book, they only select ten of them to ask you.  The interviewer  was very nice and he made me feel comfortable  so I  was confident in answering his questions.  After getting the first 6 questions right, I was done.  
I was freaking out  when December came as I never got any notification about the Oath ceremony.  I was  worried that they might find wrong in my application and  will go through it again.  I think that the delayed was due to the holiday so I was glad when I got my Oath Taking Ceremony notification after Christmas.  The Oath  Taking ceremony was held where I was interviewed on January  10 at 1:00 pm.  We brought our kids with us.  They only attended school for half a day.
I was the very first one to arrived so I got the first seat lol.  The guys that  was in front was the one who interviewed me.
After the Pledge of Allegiance, the Director encouraged us to share our  journey here in the States but I did not have the courage to talk in front (not my kind of thing lol).  Some shared their  stories though which is nice.  The Indian woman made me cry with her speech.  Some who took the Oath are from Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Russia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, and some other countries.  I was the only Filipino there.
The Naturalization ceremony program includes  showing a presentation of Faces of America, singing of the National Anthem, welcoming remarks, roll call by country, oath of allegiance, they they showed a  video address from the President, Barack Obama.  The video montage  of "Proud to be an American" make me teary eyed.  The program ended with the presentation of certificates and the rest is photo opp.
I got the love of my life to thank for, for  embarking this journey with me.  Without him, I could have never set my foot here in the United States.
I am glad that this has been done and over with.  It has been bugging me for years, whether or not to apply.  So now, we can all travel, and I will be an Alien, no more.  Next step is for me to apply for  a new passport.  I thank God for giving me my rock, someone that I can depend on for everything.