I first started this journey thinking about what I’m going to do after I graduate nursing school. A colleague suggested military nursing. I looked into it and I thought I’d give it a try. Traveling and getting the experience needed as well as benefits when I get out sounded pretty good to me.
You’re probably thinking that I got a lawyer involved and it cost me a ton of money. In a way, it did cost me but I was a broke college student. However, I did not hire a lawyer. As of August 26, 2015, the naturalization application fee was USD 680.00 which was basically 80% of my income at the time.
How did I fill out a super official document without the help of a lawyer? To be honest, basic comprehension skills got me through it. However, there was this one question that started with “Have you ever not…?” That sentence, to me, was so confusing! I left the confusing question(s) blank and filled the ones that I understood.
What about the ones I left blank? In Boston, MA, there are organizations that help out permanent residents obtain American citizenship status for free. I went to JVS Boston which is located in Downtown Boston. They had a nice and clean space at a building. The employees were extra nice and professional. In other words, they seemed legitimate. Also, they were featured in a daily email from my workplace so I knew they could be trusted.
A little bit about the naturalization application process is that I needed to be at least 18 years old and be a permanent resident. I had to complete the N-400 form as well as have a green card, USD 680.00-check (or money order) paid to the Department of Homeland Security, and 2 passport pictures.
When I met with a representative from JVS Boston, we went over my application, what to expect, and offered me classes on taking the civics test (for free). When we were done, I mailed my application and was scheduled for my biometrics 4 weeks later. I had my interview and civics test 10 weeks later. After about a month, I was scheduled for a swearing in to be an American citizen.
During the ceremony, I felt excited yet sad because I had to “absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign… state.” My spirits got better when I realized I could serve in any of the military branches (that is, if I pass of course!).
As I’m writing this, I just cannot believe I’m an American citizen. I can finally vote, serve in the military, be involved in court, and may be even run for office – like that’s going to happen!
Even though the year just started, I can already feel that this year is going to be another crazy adventure.