Oksana is an American citizen
by Oksana Leslie, author of
There are two ways to become a citizen. One is through the birth, and another is through the legal immigration process called NATURALIZATION (form N - 400).
Most Americans through birth do not realize that it is not easy to
become a citizen through naturalization. Actually it is a challenge.
Immigrants have to not just fill out a lot of paperwork, and be fingerprinted.
They have to study American history and government for the test, English
language, and pay money for the processing.
When I applied and submitted all my paperwork for the first time in May, 2004, I received it all back with a note: “Our prices went up, new fee is now $75 for fingerprinting, and $320 for processing.” Next time I applied again in September, 2005.
My paperwork came back again: “Our forms have changed. Please, download and submit new form.” So, third time I applied and sent paperwork again in December, 2005, in Pensacola, Florida. Russians have a saying: “God loves trinity.” In my case, this was true.
In January, 2006, I received a letter that my naturalization process
has been started, and that I have to drive to New Orleans’s CIA
office for fingerprinting. Thanks God, some Russian friends from local
Baptist church had an invitation letter to do the same thing on the
same day at the same place. So, I was not alone for the fingerprinting
The immigration officer asked me if am still married, about my job,
my children, and asked me to write and to read simple English sentences.
So, for immigrants who do not speak English, to pass this test is like
“Mission Impossible Ever”.
In the 29th of September, I was invited among 104 immigrants to Pensacola
court for an oath ceremony. My husband Keith was looking for his keys
that morning, and had hard time finding them. It was irritating: “I
was driving us; I planned to drop him back home before I went back to
work, and I could not understand his actions and worries.”
Well, after 2 hours of going through security, registration and signing papers, the ceremony finally took place. I was happy to sit down; my both ankles were bleeding from the shoes. Judges and politics spoke their speeches; photographers took new citizen’s pictures. I never thought that my face will end up in a local newspaper. I am sitting there, looking up with a tired frown on my face on one of the happiest days in my life.
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