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This post is about the step-by-step process I took to get my American citizenship as a permanent resident with a green card.
Are you a DV Lottery green card holder with permanent residence trying to apply for your American citizenship?
Well, you have come to the right platform because I will be talking about the fears, stigma, misconceptions, and the step-by-step citizenship application process.
What is the Diversity Visa Lottery Program?
The DV Lottery program was set to diversify the immigrant population in the US.
People from particular countries can apply to hopefully win the lottery and receive a 10-year permanent residency visa in the US. My story about winning the Green Card is a whole different topic for another day. It was a miracle from heaven. I am not gonna lie.
The Fear About The Citizenship Process
I know that a lot of green card holders are really secretive and sensitive. Everyone is really HUSH about their citizenship process. Well, I used to be completely like this because of fear.
I feared that I would not be welcome, I feared that people would think I am full of myself, I feared that people would wish evil upon my blessings, I feared the general ignorance towards this topic.
Honestly, with the current political affairs, I thought twice if I should write about this blog or not haha.
Despite racism, the main reason there is a lot of stigma towards immigrants is the lack of information and education about this process. Let me also tell you the truth there is nothing to fear about. The Green Card Lottery is a beautiful system that was designed to offer you opportunities because they need you. Yes, You.
Nevertheless, God gave you the green card as a blessing to make a difference in your family for generations. Think about that for a minute.
Why Do People Want To Become American Citizens?
The main question I get asked all the time is that, “America is such a mess, why would you want to live here? why not go back to your country? why do you want to become a citizen?”
What people fail to understand is that we absolutely love our home country, our heritage, and our people. There’s no question about it. However, America offers us endless opportunities that we would have never had in our home country.
Of course with a ton of effort, in America you can be who you want to be, you can make money starting at whatever age, you can have the freedom to travel to a ton of countries, you can have a higher level of education despite your socio-economic status. Nevertheless, the technology, the infrastructure, and the possibilities. Oh my, you can basically live the “American dream” if you work hard.
You don’t have to be rich or the smartest to make it in life. Everyone can make it here. Wow! That’s why we want to be proud American citizens
The Common Misconceptions About Permanent Residents Getting American Citizenship
Here are the 3 most common misconceptions about the Green Card lottery holders attaining their citizenship:
1.”Well now that you’re gaining your citizenship, you will finally start paying taxes?” People are unaware that permanent residents have almost all the same rights and benefits as American citizens. So, yes permanent residents have social security cards. And definitely, YES THEY FILE FOR AND PAY ALL KINDS OF TAXES way before they become citizens.
2. “The government just lets anybody come to America to become citizens.” People fail to understand that even when you win the lottery, it is not a guarantee that you will be given a visa. The process to come to America is really tough and thorough. Even to a point of being intimidating and demeaning.
They choose to give visas to only people who meet certain criteria. Such as having at least a specific grade in high school, no criminal records, accomplishments, financial stability, etc. Basically outstanding and amazing people.
Most people who come to America through the lottery system, already own prestigious degrees and jobs. They’re really important people in society.
Even though they have to start their lives all over again in a new country, Most permanent residents work their behind off to become nurses, doctors, accountants, engineers, business owners, homeowners, etc.
3. “The government gives permanent residents handouts to live here, why should we allow them to become citizens if they’re a liability?” Well nobody receives any extra cash from the government. Actually, most permanent residents hold at least two jobs. In addition, they work overtime hours to support themselves, their families back home and pay for their higher education.
The Main Benefits Of Getting The American Citizenship Status
Here are the 4 main benefits you get when you become an American citizen:
1.Right to vote– yes you can finally go to the polls as a proud American Citizen.
2. Run for certain public office positions – if you’re into politics like that.
3. PASSPORT PASSPORT PASSPORT – This is the main reason I got excited about being an American citizen. You can finally apply for an American passport to travel all over the world. Talk about FREEDOM. Not many people are aware but having an American passport is such a PRIVILEDGE. You can travel to most countries without being denied a visa. A sad fact is that most people living in Africa get denied at embassies to travel the world just because they do not “qualify”. What does “qualification” mean? This is just absurd.
4. Faster Petition Process– When you become a citizen, the petition process of an immediate family member is faster than that of a permanent resident.
In addition, there are a few other benefits that I will not get to.
The American Citizenship Application Requirements For Permanent Residents
You have to make sure you’re eligible to become a citizen before applying.
Here are the top 5 requirements:
- Have to be 18 years or older.
- Have to be a lawful permanent resident for at least 5 years. ( Green Card Holder)
- Be a person of good moral character.
- Have resided in the US continuously for a certain period of time. Here is the continuous residence provision.
- Can speak, write, and read basic English.
Here are more eligibility requirements to note. Make sure to look at the USCIS website for any updates and changes.
The American Citizenship Naturalization Process For Permanent Residents
American Citizenship Timeline
The timeline totally varies from state to state but it usually takes approximately 6 months to become a citizen. (Not a guarantee)
My entire process took less than 5 months.
- Submitted application- September 2nd, 2019
- Biometrics appointment- September 24th, 2019.
- Interview date- December 12th, 2019.
- Oath Ceremony date- January 15th, 2020.
When you meet all the requirements, the application process is actually not as difficult as you may think.
You will need to file Form N-400 either online or via mail. I filed my application online and it took me less than an hour. If you have any dependents it may take longer. Make sure to be truthful and thorough.
In addition, my application and biometrics fee was approximately $725 in total. Take note that they usually adjust their prices periodically. See filing fee information here.
2. Biometrics Appointment
When you submit your application, the USCIS is always in constant communication with you about the next step. After the application, they will notify you about your biometrics appointment, where they will take your fingerprints.
The notice will state the specific time, date, and location to show up. In addition, pay attention to what other documentation they need from you at the appointment. I was only required to bring my green card as a form of identification.
When I went to my appointment, I was all done and out of the building within 10 minutes. It was a really friendly and really smooth process.
Below is a picture of me exploring the town after a seamless process.
Psssst! They also give you your study book to start preparing for the interview test.
3. The Interview
The interview is one part of the process that gives people the CHILLS! Literally. Nobody likes the possibility and the embarrassment of failing.
But Let me tell you! RELAX. It is not half as bad as you may think. At least for me.
1. The Background Test
Firstly, they go with you over the American citizenship application you filed at the beginning of the process. They ask a few background questions about you. In addition, they quickly go over some yes or no questions found in the back of the application. Such as “have you ever been in jail or prison?”
So study your application questions, and answers.
2. The English Test
Secondly, you will do a reading, speaking, and writing test. I was first told to read a sentence out loud. Then I was told to write 3 specific sentences. It was super duper easy. No need to study for this part.
3. The Civics Test
Thirdly, this is the most intimidating section because you could fail if you did not study. The rules might have changed, but, I had to study only 100 questions.
At the test, they randomly picked only 10 out of the 100 questions. In order to pass the test, I had to get only 6 of the 10 questions correct.
Here are the new test provisions. It looks like they have increased the number of study questions to 128. They ask 20 questions and you need to answer a minimum of 12 questions correctly to pass. You got this though! It’s only a memorization game. No need to worry too much.
My thoughts on the American Citizenship interview process…
Honestly, the interview was such a breeze. I was really super nervous because I did not feel well prepared for the civics test. I tried memorizing the 100 questions the night before. Like why??
But surprisingly, the officer I worked with was super nice and relatable. If I tell you I was laughing and talking about Alaska the entire interview, you won’t believe me. I mean I still did the test, but I was at ease. In addition, if I could recall, the interview took less than 20 minutes lol.
Also, just so you know, they tell you the results there and then. They let you know if you have passed the test to become a citizen.
4. The Oath Ceremony
Finally!!! The big day.
If you pass the interview, they will schedule you for the oath ceremony. At the ceremony, they take your green card away and give you your citizenship certificate.
It’s a whole celebration.
My Crazy Oath Ceremony Story
Y’all when I tell you I missed my one and only oath ceremony you won’t believe me. The disappointment, the confusion, the frustration. Y’all the devil was up and early working hard on that day haha!
My oath ceremony was set for January 15th, 2020 at 9 am. The ceremony location was also a 2-hour drive away. So, I woke up really early, beat my face with makeup, put on the best official outfit, had a good breakfast, and was ready to go.
The Craziest & Unexpected Thing Happened…
However, as I stepped out to the parking lot, OMG! I almost literally fell flat on my face. There was slick black ice outside the apartment. I just thought huh, maybe the apartment complex forgot to pour some salt at the front door area. It was also really dark that early morning around 6ish. So I struggled to make a few other steps. That is when I realized that the whole parking lot was completely covered in black ice.
There was absolutely no way I could get to the car parked down the hill because of the ice. As time was ticking trying to figure what to do, it dawned on me that I was not going to make it to my American citizenship oath ceremony on time. There was no weather warning, no communication, no nothing.
I later came to realize later that there was the so-called dangerous black ice the entire route to my oath ceremony location. In fact, According to the newspaper released the next day, they had been over 100 collisions reported by 10 am in my surrounding area.
What a mess!!!
What Option Did I Have?
My first thought was to call the USCIS location to let them know that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the oath ceremony on time, due to the weather conditions.
To my disappointment, there was no direct department to call/ email. In addition, all they said on their website is that I would have to write a letter and mail it to them stating the reason why I did not show up to my oath ceremony appointment. Which could have taken so long to hear back. How ridiculous!!!
All I could think about was, I just did not want to pay another fee to start the process all over again.
At this moment it was around 9 am, yes my oath ceremony had started and I was still in my apartment sad and clueless. Thanks to my friends who were there to offer support.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…
After much thought, I decided that once the roads started to clear up, I would show up to their office regardless. I had taken the day off anyway.
Honestly, I did not have any hope of getting into the building because the front door security is always tight. For example, they make you take your shoes off, go through your belongings and ask you where you’re going. Omg, what was I gonna say? I was absolutely sure they would not let me in the building.
It was around 10 am when we started driving to the USCIS offices where the ceremony was being hosted. In my mind, during the drive, I was also praying to God, “please please let them hear me out. Please let me get my American citizenship.”
When I Got To The USCIS Office This Is What Happened…
When I arrived in the building, the security officers checked my ID, my belongings, and wanted to know what brought me there.
I told them that I had an oath ceremony and I needed to go to a specific department. It was to my utter surprise that they let me in. I couldn’t believe it.
So it was time to plead my case to the citizenship officers and probably cry haha. When I got into the office, I saw a long line of people who seemed to be there for the ceremony as well.
Thank God! I became really hopeful. In addition, I explained to the citizenship officers that I was not able to make it to my 9 am ceremony due to the bad weather.
I Was Actually In Shock To Realize…
The people in the line were actually there for the 1 pm ceremony, which was the last ceremony for the day. Yes, my ceremony had ended a long time ago. But when I tell you God is good, you should believe me.
Immediately, the officer rushed real quick to see if I could join in the 1 pm group ceremony. And for sure, they did have only one spot left from someone who didn’t show up.
Drop the mic!!! because y’all faith moves mountains.
Nevertheless, they definitely went above and beyond to accommodate me.
At the end of the beautiful ceremony, one officer noticed that I was the only one in the group who did not receive a flag. Without me even asking, he rushed from nowhere and gave me the American flag. How nice?
In summary, this was honestly a big lesson. JUST SHOW UP, AND GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF THE REST.
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Please note the rules and provisions for the citizenship application process are determined by the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services.
This post is just about my experience and general thoughts. Also, rules are always bound to change. Always be on the lookout and watch out for scammers.
As you’re applying for your citizenship, I wish you all the best. Nevertheless, remember to share the happy moments with your loved ones. Take pictures and be proud of it because it is truly a blessing.
Once again, keep looking chic & classy just like a million bucks as you take opportunities God has handed to you.