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. Â Mine was scheduled for today, at 7:45 AM.
So I get up at 6AM, and set off. Â They say don’t arrive too early. Â I get to the Federal Building (300 N Los Angeles St, Downtown LA) at around 7:30. Â There’s a short line outside, and it’s raining. Â The guard directs me to the end of the line. Â I did not bring an umbrella.
I’m in the line for about 10 minutes, not raining too hard luckily. Â Then through security – there’s a sign saying “No cameras”, but they don’t seem to mind cell phones with cameras built in. Â I proceed to the 6th floor, into a moderately large room with many people of all ethnicities. Â I give my form to the lady behind the window, and take a seat.
People get called every minute or so. Â Many people seem to be couples, or maybe people with lawyers. Â Many people are practicing their civics questions. Â 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. Â 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”. Â He asks me if I pay my taxes, and then if I’ve brought my tax returns with me. Â 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. Â 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. Â There were four more questions, but all you have to do is get six right, so they stop when you do. Â 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. Â Â There were spaces on both pieces of paper for multiple attempts, but I managed to get it first time! Â I think that because it was obvious I could read and write, he was just doing the minimum required to get the paperwork done. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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). Â 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 Â MrÂ Rivera, who comes and gets me after about five minutes.
Then that’s about it. Â 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). Â 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. Â I can also apply for a passport directly after the ceremony.
Not too bad really. Â 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. Â 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. Â But he asked for neither, so all was well. Â Â If in doubt though, bring everything.