I got US citizenship after 9 years of moving to the US. Today is the day of the oath ceremony. After arriving in the United States, settling in, looking for a house, having children, and working, 9 years seem to pass like an arrow.
And after successfully completing the interview, today is the day to go to the oath ceremony. The location and time of the oath ceremony will be notified individually by mail. Therefore, the place is individually different. In my case, I did not receive a letter from the immigration office. I checked through the Internet, and fortunately, the lawyer who helped with the paperwork double-checked me, so I found the location and date.
And normally, the oath ceremony was held within one to two months after the interview, but in my case, the oath ceremony was held exactly six months after the interview in February.
It's been a long wait, but I'm glad I got to take the oath today. Today is the day I became an American.
Since the oath ceremony was held at 9 am, we departed earlier at 8 am. The oath ceremony is about 30 minutes away from my house.
When I arrived, the people who came to get citizenship like me were all going in one direction. I also joined these processions. Upon entering the entrance, there was a QR code and a monitor on the left side of the large lobby. This is where you enter information about Covid-19. I took a QR code with my cell phone camera, went to the website, simply entered information about the Covid-19, and received a conformation QR code. Show this QR code on the display monitor right next to it and the whole process is finished. If you don't want to use the Internet like this, you can simply fill out the paperwork on the table.
And before going upstairs, you have to go through a security check. At the security check point, you must turn off your cell phone and give it to the staff. The staff will keep your cell phone and give you a number so you can pick it up later.
As I went up to the second floor, another employee checked the interview documents I had received at home. After checking that there are no unanswered questions, you will be asked to finally fill in some missing information. In case of this, it is recommended to bring a pen with you.
You cannot bring drinks and snacks with you upon entry. And it is better to wear a formal suit like a suit. USCIS instructs all applicants to dress in attire that “respects the dignity” of the Oath of Allegiance ceremony. The agency specifically prohibits wearing jeans, shorts, and flip flops.
If friends and family are accompanying you, there is a place like a cafeteria where they can wait while watching the monitor. There are also some simple meals that the family can eat here.
Upon entering, another staff member will tell you where to sit. Most of the staff are very friendly. Go to the chair and there is a yellow envelope on the chair. The following documents are included in the envelope. The most important of the documents is a small piece of paper prepared for the oath. On that piece of paper is written what is to be sworn in.
I have to sit on a chair and wait until all the chairs in the hall are full. Waiting time seems to be about 30-40 minutes. I prepared a book to read for the waiting time and it was very useful. Because you can't look at your phone, it will be very boring.
Once the seats are filled, the staff will explain the simple procedure. And everyone has to wait for the judge to arrive. The whole process took me about 3 hours. These waiting times are different. For my son, it took an hour and a half.
When the judge arrives, he will give you a detailed explanation, including the purpose of the oath. Then, after having everyone stand up, raise your right hand and read the oath together. Later, I play Pledge of Allegiance with one hand on my chest looking at the flag. At this point, I immediately had a indescribable feeling.because I never expected this day to come in my life.
At the conclusion of the oath, the judge gives an additional speech. He talks about the attitude as an American, our duties and responsibilities, and rights. And we talk about how many people from different countries took the oath on the same day and call each country to stand up. In my case, it seems that there were about 10 South.Koreans.
After that, each person is called by rows of the block in chairs. At this time, you must give the interview related documents you received at home and your permanent residence card to the employee. The employee has a green card and will not return it. Because it is no longer needed. I feel secure in the sense that my identity for my place of residence is solidified. They will then look at the interview material and ask if anything has changed. I talked about the name because the name changes. The staff tells you to go to the window that suits you here.
When you go to the counter, another staff member double-checks that the name has been changed and has them sign autographs. You can sign an existing one or create a new one. I signed the old one.
And as soon as you go to the next window, there are two staff who help you register to vote. Documents in Spanish and English are ready. Fill it out with the relevant documents and return it to us.
When everyone in the hall completes this process, the judge will notify them that they are all done and send a congratulatory message. And after calling each person's name, they finally hand out documents proving citizenship. Once you receive this certificate, you can go straight home.
In my case, I went downstairs again, got my phone back, and finished all the process. At the entrance, there is an empty space with pictures of President Biden and Vice President Harrison and an American flag. Everyone line up here and take a commemorative photo.
The staff were all friendly and hospitable and there was no need to be particularly nervous or stressed as the whole process went smoothly. Instead, be sure to bring the appropriate documents, arrive at least 30 minutes in advance, bring a book to read while waiting, charge your phone well, wear neat and formal clothes, bring a pen and a mask.
Doing something for the first time, whatever it is, is very nerve-wracking. But after going through all the steps, I think I can look back a little more leisurely.
I hope my brief experience will be of some help to you.
Myungja Anna Koh