Becoming an American

Backstory:I got my Greencard in 2006…and just became eligible for Citizenship this year.

So many people think that you get handed a passport a few months after you marry an American. That could NOT be further from the truth!!

The Greencard process involved an expensive Lawyer, and Mike proving that he could ‘sponsor’ my Residency. We had to produce tax Returns and paychecks, I had to go for a physical to test for AIDS and Tuberculosis, and then we had a swift interview where we had to prove the validity of our relationship.

It wasn’t all ‘Greencard (the movie)’ interrogation, but it took 2 years from filing until I had a (beige) card in my hands…and over $2000.

So when the time came for Citizenship, I wasn’t jumping with glee. After looking at the form, and talking to people who had already done it, I decided to file without using a lawyer. The form was long but obvious, even with questions like

  • Are you a Terrorist Organization? (me personally, no)
  • Have you even been a member of a group of club? (vague much?)
  • Were you a member of the Nazi Party between 1942 and 1945? (no, that year I was on Mars)

The fee was a hefty $900 and my mugshot photo ages me about 10 years and exposes every pore…

BUT, it all went very quickly after that.

First

I got a notice saying my application was received

Second

Three weeks later I got a notice to come in for fingerprinting. This is so they can check if you were lying when you said you weren’t a Terrorist Organization ( this post may rank well for terrorist organization, so my spam filter better get ready). Fingerprinting was a breeze. The USCIS office is 3 minutes from my office, and it’s new and spacious and lovely. What a shock. The security guard looked at me quizzically when I showed him my paper.

You from Europe

“Ireland”

You didn’t bring me no Whisky?

That exchange set the tone for all of my USCIS dealings thereafter. The finger printing was quick, clean and digital. No messy black ink, or gross orange-smelling soap to remove it.  Just nice, clean, (probably) Korean engineered glass scanners.

They gave me a booklet on the way out, a nicely printed guide to the 100 American Civics questions, and an Audio CD. There were accompanying flash-cards online for me to study with. USCIS FTW on joining the digital age. I burned the CD, put it on my phone, and drive about for the next month, learning my Presidents.

A mere 6 days later…

Step Three

Notice for the Interview!

Again, didn’t have to take any time off since the office was around the corner from Work. I crammed all morning to be sure I knew who wrote the Declaration….etc. The waiting room was pretty full but I got called back into a private area about 10 minutes after arriving. My interviewer was a clean-cut good looking Hispanic guy, in his early 30s, like I said, USCIS FTW. His first remark was that I was very tall for an Irish person. I doubt he sees many though….

He went through my application questions again verbally, am I a terrorist, am I part of an organization? He had a sense of humor and laughed at the terrorist one too, making some remark about how his wife would disagree. Then we get to the good bit. APPARENTLY, my birth cert is spelled ‘Jesica‘ and has been for 27 years. Even though every other piece of ID I have ever had, is spelled ‘Jessica‘, he HAS to go with Jesica. So Jesica Dowling Hammer is becoming a citizen y’all! Then I have to go get my name changed at the courthouse. And add back in the Catherine. UGH!

Then I had to prove I could read English by reading the sentence ‘When is Columbus Day?” out loud. I proved I could write in English by writing “Columbus Day is in October”. Mind you , I didn’t have to know the answer, or spell it right! Then the scary bit, the Civics questions.

  • How many years is a Senator’s Term?
  • When do we celebrate Independence Day?
  • Who becomes President if he Pres. and VP cannot?
  • What does the President’s cabinet do?

I think there was one more…but either way, I got em all right!

So needless to say, I passed! I am still waiting on a notice to come in for my Ceremony.


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