Tag Archives: cbis
August 9, 2007

Naturalization II: The Oath Ceremony

Oksana’s speech

I think I spent most of Friday in Oksana’s car.  It sure felt that way after all the back-and-forth.

We started with breakfast at the Southeast Waffle Company.  After carbo-loading, we had an hour to kill, so we went to our apartment.  I sat my mom down in front of the PlayStation 2, put a Guitar Hero II controller into her hands, and forced her to play through the first two tutorials.  She missed a few notes; I was concerned when her frustration began to show.  But after she successfully finished the tutorial, I put another guitar into my step-dad’s hands and encouraged them to try playing a song together.  Their first attempt went poorly because they started on the first song they recognized — You Really Got Me, by Van Halen — a tough one.  Oksana and I suggested the ubiquitous Surrender and they managed to stumble their way through the entire song.  They appeared more flustered than anything, and I thought they were about to give up entirely.  Then they looked at each other and exclaimed, “That was so cool!” 

Hook, line, and sinker!  I think they would have played all day if we didn’t have a naturalization ceremony to attend.  We piled back into Oksana’s car and drove downtown.

The oath was to be given in the Federal Courtroom in the Federal Building.  We went through the two metal detectors Oksana and I were so familiar with from previous visits.  Again, we surrendered all our electronic items, but at least we were allowed to keep our cameras this time.  About 5 minutes before our 10:15 appointment, we filed into the courtroom.  We found seats near the back while Oksana was ushered to the front.  She, along with the other 37 soon-to-be U.S. citizens, turned in their green cards and verified the information on their new citizenship certificates.

Mr. Lee, our INS agent for the day, announced to the courtroom how the ceremony would proceed.  The only thing each new citizen needed to know was that at some point they will be called to the podium.  The only requirementwas to say their name and their country of origin.  “Take 3 seconds or 15 minutes.  This is your day and you can use your time at the podium to say whatever you like.”  I scanned the list of names.  If everyone used up 15 minutes, we’d be there over nine hours!


June 7, 2007

Citizenship Exam

The Seal of the United States.Pop quiz:  Which amendments to the United States Constitution address voting rights?  Who said, “Give me liberty or give me death?”  What where the original 13 states? 

If you recall, Oksana received an INS “don’t call us, we’ll call you” letter with a year-long expiration date last November.  She was commanded to appear for fingerprints in February, but there was no new information about the citizenship process.  Just over a month ago, we finally received a citizenship-related letter in the mail.  With six months left to go!  Who says our government isn’t efficient?

The letter gave us a new date to look forward to, June 6th.  That was the day, yesterday actually, that Oksana was to appear at the federal building, ready for her citizenship exam.  In the middle of her workday, she was told to allow up to two hours for the interview and exam.  She visited the INS website and downloaded the appropriate study materials.

One evening, when friends were over, she pulled out the 100-question study guide and quizzed all us American-born citizens.  Would we be able to pass the test?

The vast majority of the questions were concerning things we all knew by the end of junior high (How many branches of the government are there, for how long is a senator elected, how many stripes are there on the flag, what was the 49th state added to the union, what is the Declaration of Independence, what’s the name of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to America?)  Some tripped us up individually (Who is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, what where the original 13 states, what are the requirements to be eligible for president?)  Only a couple questions stumped all of us (such at the example above about voting rights).

By the time I was quizzing Oksana on the ride to the federal building, she could answer every single one of them.  Bring it on!


February 22, 2007

Fingerprint Notification

See the ornate banner at the top?  Looks like a dollar bill, to me.Yesterday we received a letter from the INS.

Wait a minute, back up.

Back in November, after four years of marriage, the INS finally allowed Oksana to apply for U.S. citizenship.  She spent a number of hours filling out applications, gathering supporting documents, and writing checks for something like $400 in form filing fees.  Then we packaged it all up in a manilla envelope and mailed it off to Nebraska.  A month or so later, we received a nice form letter in the mail.  “Thank you for applying for ___U.S. Citizenship___.  You can expect to hear from us within __365___ days.  Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”  The wording was different, but that was the exact message, honest.  We resolved ourselves to a long wait.

So yesterday, when an official envelope arrived, I thought it was going to be time for Oksana to start reading up on the Civil War.  After scanning the letter (which, by the way, curiously uses design elements cribbed from our currency), however, I realized that it was just notifying us that she had to get fingerprinted.  Again.

I don’t know how many times she’s been fingerprinted for this naturalization process.  This might be the third time.  I have a question:  Isn’t one of the reasons we use fingerprints as a form of identification because THEY DON’T CHANGE?  What are they hoping to accomplish here?

Also, isn’t it just like a government agency to notify you that they’ve scheduled your appointment without consulting you?  “You are hearby commanded to appear at the official INS office at 3pm on March 6th.”  Fine, but what if we’d been on vacation or something?  I’m just glad she doesn’t have to fly to Anchorage again as a part of the process.  (Something tells me they don’t actually offer the citizenship test here in Juneau, so it looks like the cost of another trip to Anchorage or Seattle will be added to her citizenship’s bottom line.)

But, hey.  Someday it’ll be cool.  Oksana will be able to vote for the president, get a federal job, or whatever.  I’m just looking forward to the day when we can both travel under the same passport.

November 11, 2005

Green Card

Oksana\'s Green Card PhotoA continuation of this journal.

You’d think that, 38 months after our wedding, we would be all through with the expenses. Not true, when you marry an alien.

Oksana has been keeping an eye on the calendar and, back in February, it was time for her to submit another INS form. Her temporary green card (i.e., her permission to work in the U.S.) was about to expire and she needed to apply for the permanent extension. We fired up the internet, sussed out the appropriate I-551 form, and started to compile the appropriate paperwork. We wrote a check for the form submission fee ($200!) and packaged it up in an envelope with 20 pages of supporting documents. It was mailed off to Anchorage on February 3rd ($4.30).

A couple months later, we received notification that our paperwork was in process – that was a good thing, because Oksana’s temporary green card would have expired in May.

In late August we received another letter from the Anchorage INS office informing us that her petition for a permanent green card (for the INS, permanent apparently means “ten years”) had been approved and that she only need to do a couple things to make it official.

Step One: Provide three passport-sized photos.
Step Two: Submit the photos. In person… at the Anchorage office.