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.
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.
Majid, a native of Iran, has been waiting for this day since 2012, then 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 missed his home, could not work in his specialty, he had to learn English from scratch, but he overcame all difficulties and proudly received American citizenship. The only thing is that he is saddened by the lack of celebration.
“I expected there would be a good event with a lot of people. It turned out very ordinary, it looks like a queue at McDonald's, and not obtaining American citizenship, ”says Majid.
“I always imagined that we would be at a large stadium, the president would greet us personally and everything would be very festive. But on the other hand, it is good that they did not postpone this procedure again, ”says another holder of citizenship, Murat.
Future American citizens arrive at an equipped parking lot and tune the radio to a given frequency that broadcasts the president's anthem and message. After the immigration officer asks the procedural questions, they will read the oath - masks and social distance are required.
“There are flags everywhere, our employees are in a festive mood, we strive to do everything to make this moment memorable, given the situation we have to deal with,” says 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 am very pleased to finally receive American citizenship, ”shares his impressions of the ceremony Daisy.
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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