The Day I Became an American

HOUSTON - Honestly, I didn't think there would be fanfare or celebration. I just knew that becoming a naturalized citizen was on my life-long to do list.

I also didn't plan on getting emotional. 

But as I stood there taking the Oath of Allegiance, my hand started shaking and the tears started flowing. It's a dream come true for this farm girl from the Scottish Highlands.

There were 1400 of us from more than 100 different countries taking the oath in Houston that day.

We all have a story to tell. 

Here's mine.

I've carried a Permanent Resident (green) card for years. Applying for visas and permanent residency were handled by my parents years ago. I never learned much about that process but I always knew it was important.

Last year, I decided to apply for citizenship.

I considered applying for years but the application is thick (really thick) and also requires nearly $700 to submit the forms. There are all sorts of questions like, "Have you ever been a habitual drunkard?"

In June 2016, I finished the application and paid the fees. Within days, I had an appointment for biometrics. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requires fingerprints, signatures and photographs from every applicant.

That information is submitted to the FBI for a background check.

I was pumped because the process was moving along so quickly. My hope was that I would be an American in time to vote during the presidential election.

That didn't happen.

At the beginning of 2017, my case was still open. I emailed USCIS to get an update. It had been 214 days and I was starting to get worried.

My worries ended a few weeks ago when I got a letter in the mail about my citizenship interview.

I showed up and paced the waiting room with sweaty palms.

I was led into a small office with an immigration officer. She was friendly and asked a lot of yes or no questions. That question about being a habitual drunkard came up again and I wondered if it was because I hailed from Scotland!!! 

I had to write and read lines in English to ensure I had a grasp of the language. Then, it was time to answer six civics questions. I know they're random but I felt like I got really easy ones. Doesn't everyone know the name of the National Anthem?

The officer congratulated me and said I was being recommended for citizenship.

 

Finally, I got the invitation for the oath ceremony.

As I stood there with my right hand raised, I was thinking about all the blessings this country has given me. I'm not joking when I say that I can't wait to vote and get called for jury duty.

I had no idea this experience would be interesting to so many of you. Thank you for your sweet comments and kind words. 

Does this mean I can become a habitual drunkard now? Just kidding.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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