Thousands of expats become US citizens in run up to Independence Day

by Ray Clancy on July 5, 2011

Independence Day Celebrated

Tens of thousands of expats celebrated Independence Day yesterday by becoming citizens of the United States in ceremonies across the country.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said there were around 350 ceremonies welcoming more than 24,000 new citizens to commemorate America’s 235th birthday leading up to Independence Day on 04 July.

‘Every Fourth of July we celebrate our country’s spirit of independence. This spirit, and our founding ideals of freedom and democracy, have allowed us to achieve great success as a nation of immigrants,’ said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas.

‘Immigrants come to America in search of opportunity and, by taking the Oath of Allegiance, embrace the rights and responsibilities of US citizenship,’ added Mayorkas.

The celebration of citizenship included a ceremony on 01 July aboard the USS Midway in San Diego, where 200 members of the military were naturalized in a tribute to Gulf War veterans.

Keeping with USCIS’s commitment to bring immigration services to the troops wherever they serve, members of the US armed forces also took the Oath of Allegiance to become citizens at all military ceremonies in Baghdad, Kabul, and Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

In addition, USCIS held special ceremonies at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta, McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, the USS Constitution in Charlestown, Massachusetts, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens in Mount Vernon, Virginia, and SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.
You can apply to become a citizen of the United States after living in the country for five years or three years if you are married to a US citizen. Benefits include being able to vote in elections and having a US passport. It also makes it easier should members of your family want to immigrate to the US.

The first step is to file an application form and then take the naturalization test for which you need to be able to speak, read and write in basic English. You also need to learn about US history and government and the rights and responsibilities US citizens have.

Before filing an application, you need to have lived in the district where you are applying for at least three months. You also need to be of good moral character.

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