Very cool trail map, from a more useful perspective than the usual one:
Yearly Archives: 2009
So my naturalization oath day finally arrived. It in Pomona, which is about 60 miles from here, and they said to arrive at 12:30. So I set off around 11, and arrived around12 (unusually clear traffic for LA). When you arrive it’s pretty much a case of follow the signs. There was a huge queue of cars at the gate (gate 17, not 14 as they listed on the note), and they charge $9 for parking.
Then just follow the streams of people into the fairground, it was quite a long walk (about half a mile total), and I’m glad it was not too hot.
Then we are separated out into “Future Citizens” and “Family and Friends”. I joined the “Future Citizens” line (click any of these photos for big versions)
Eventually we all get inside, there’s a bunch of tables where they take away your green card (gone forever!) and write a number on your appointment letter.
Then we were given small American flags and sat down, and waited for the ceremony to begin. This seems to take rather a long time, and I think we actually start around 1:30.
That’s the last photo I took. If you look in the upper left you can see a small area for family and friends to view the ceremony. I think that space is very limited, crowded standing room only, and a lot of people ended up outside. The ceremony started with some calling to order (seing as how it was actually a court, with a Judge and all). Pretty much the first thing we did was stand a take the oath:
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.
This was done by the Judge reading it out a bit at a time, and everyone (3500 people) repeating it. This was not so simple, as the sound system was terrible, and it was hard to hear what he was saying, especially with words like “abjure” and “potentate” in there. Still, we got through it, and then everyone clapped and waved their flags.
Next someone gave a speech, which I think was about the history, honor, and responsibility of being an American citizen. Unfortunately I was only able to hear one word in ten.
Next they played us a video of Lee Greenwood singing “God bless the USA“, set to a montage of images of America – Steel Mills, Mountains, Birds, Oceans, People, etc. This seemed a little asecular to me, but what can you do.
We then pledge allegiance to the flag, sang the national anthem, and that was the ceremony over. We were shuffled back to the tables where we went the the table number we were given earlier to collect our certificates.
A that point you are done and can leave. But I chose to go and apply for a passport in the next building. This took another hour, with the long line. Plus they take away your certificate (will be mailed back later), and you are technically not allowed to make a copy of it, so you will be left without evidence of citizenship during that time, except for the reciept they give you, and the letters you had from earlier. Passports take 2-4 weeks, so although I’m a fully legal American citizen now (feels a bit odd writing that), the process is not quite over.
[Update: My passport arrived in three weeks, with the certificate mailed separately]
The next to last part of applying to become a US citizen is the naturalization interview, where they make sure you are a worthy enough person to have the right to become a citizen of the US. Mine was scheduled for today, at 7:45 AM.
So I get up at 6AM, and set off. They say don’t arrive too early. I get to the Federal Building (300 N Los Angeles St, Downtown LA) at around 7:30. There’s a short line outside, and it’s raining. The guard directs me to the end of the line. I did not bring an umbrella.
I’m in the line for about 10 minutes, not raining too hard luckily. Then through security – there’s a sign saying “No cameras”, but they don’t seem to mind cell phones with cameras built in. I proceed to the 6th floor, into a moderately large room with many people of all ethnicities. I give my form to the lady behind the window, and take a seat.
People get called every minute or so. Many people seem to be couples, or maybe people with lawyers. Many people are practicing their civics questions. I use the flash cards on my iPhone for a while, but I’m already about 99% sure I’ve got them all, and I only need 60%.
My name gets called after about 45 minutes, and my interviewer, Mr Rivera, takes me back to his office, on the way there he makes a copy of my greeen card and my drivers license. When in his office I have to be placed under oath, standing up, right hand raised, promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
He then asks a bunch of questions, like: “have you ever been arrested for drunk driving” and “have you been a communist”. He asks me if I pay my taxes, and then if I’ve brought my tax returns with me. I did not.
He then turns to his computer and prints out the actual test part of the interview, consisting of ten questions, that he asks verbally, of which I have to get six right. My six were (with my answers):
- Who is in charge of the executive branch? (The President)
- Name one right guarenteed by the first amendment? (Freedom of speech)
- Why did the first colonists come to america? (Freedom of religion)
- Describe one amendment to do with voting (Women’s right to vote).
- What was the main US concern during the cold war (Communism)
- If the President is incapacitated, who takes over (The Vice-President)
That’s it. There were four more questions, but all you have to do is get six right, so they stop when you do. We then moved on to test my mastery of english, which was a two part exam, firstly reading – where he gave me a piece of paper, on which was written:
Which state has the most people?
Which I read aloud, then he gave me another piece of paper, and told me to write “California is the state with the most people”, which I did. There were spaces on both pieces of paper for multiple attempts, but I managed to get it first time! I think that because it was obvious I could read and write, he was just doing the minimum required to get the paperwork done. The tests both went into my file.
It seemed like we were done, but he then informed me that they need to keep my tax returns on file, as I was self employed. He then told me I could bring it in today or tomorrow, or mail it in – but mailing it in could take a really long time to process. So I said I would bring it in today.
So, another 45 minute drive home, then I printed out five years of federal tax returns, sorted out the bits that were needed (1040, including the bit on self-employment tax). He kept saying I’d need business tax returns, but I think he thought I ran a small business.
Anyway, drove back, the room is now totally packed, must be 400 people in there, but I tell the guy at the window I’m returning with documents, and he goes back and tells MrRivera, who comes and gets me after about five minutes.
Then that’s about it. He examines my tax returns, seems to think they are in order, adds them to my file (which is now about two inches thick – they use a LOT of paper). He rustles through the file for a while, then eventually gets out his big APPROVED stamp, and stamps a few pages, hurrah!
So then he gives me a piece of paper (N-652) saying I was approved, and tells me the Oath Ceremony will be in a few weeks, and I’ll get a letter. I can also apply for a passport directly after the ceremony.
Not too bad really. Pity they did not make the information about bringing tax returns more apparent, but it just added two hours to the process, and was just annoying rather than a problem. One thing I was worried about as I arrive was that I just brought my current passport, and not the one I entered the country with originally. But he asked for neither, so all was well. If in doubt though, bring everything.