Naturalization in the context of a pandemic: USCIS originally approached the solution to the problem - ForumDaily
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Naturalization in the context of a pandemic: USCIS originally approached the solution to the problem

In mid-March, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspended naturalization ceremonies due to a pandemic. These ceremonies are the final step in becoming an American citizen. The fate of hundreds of thousands of people who were to receive US citizenship this year was in question. In Congress, both Democrats and Republicans called for virtual ceremonies to be held, but this is prohibited by existing law. This is stated in the video "Voices of America".

Photo: Shutterstock

In early June, USCIS offices across the country were allowed to reinstate naturalization ceremonies, but in compliance with social distance requirements. An original way to do this was found in Los Angeles.

A native of Iran, Majid had been waiting for this day since 2012, when he won a green card, which gave him the right to permanent residence in the United States. He says that at first it was difficult, he was homesick, he couldn’t work in his specialty, he had to learn English from scratch, but he overcame all the difficulties and proudly received American citizenship. The only thing is that he is upset by the lack of celebration.

“I expected it to be a good event with a lot of people. It turned out very ordinary, it looks like a line at McDonald’s, and not obtaining American citizenship,” says Majid.

“I always imagined that we would be in a big stadium, the president would greet us personally and everything would be very festive. But on the other hand, it’s good that this procedure was not postponed again,” says another citizenship holder, Murat.

On the subject: List of Documents, Strange Questions, and Personal Impressions: An Immigrant's Tale of the US Naturalization Process

Future American citizens arrive at a designated parking lot and tune the radio to a given frequency, which broadcasts the anthem and the president's message. After the immigration officer asks procedural questions, they will read the oath—masks and social distancing are required.

“Flags are everywhere, our staff is in a celebratory mood, we are trying to do everything we can to make this moment memorable given the situation that we have to deal with,” said USCIS employee Claire Nicholson.

USCIS in Los Angeles has been working in this mode for 2 weeks already, with an average of 250 people a day. If the ceremony could last all day for a pandemic, now everything is happening faster than in 10 minutes.

“Everything went very quickly, we didn’t have to wait. I understand why such measures were taken and I am grateful that the authorities are taking care of my safety in this way. And I’m very happy to finally receive American citizenship,” Daisy shares her impressions of the ceremony.

Since June 4, the USCIS office in Washington has resumed its work, but the premises can be accessed exclusively in a mask and by appointment. Visitors are also advised to bring their own pens to fill in papers.

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