Burma (Myanmar), Switzerland, Canada, Mexico, Iran… just a few countries that were exclaimed by the candidates for United States Citizenship when their names were called during the Naturalization Ceremony that took place in Jefferson City on April 25th. The world felt small for a moment in the room, where there were so many different cultures, languages, and life experiences that were comprised by the 101 candidates at the time, who are now full-fledged United States citizens.
Even though there was a multitude countries declared as the various candidate’s motherland countries, only one individual, Matias Aura, exclaimed that he was a Finland native. Aura arrived in the United States only several weeks old after being born in Espoo, Finland. As a child, he, his siblings, and parents moved around quite frequently. By the time he finished middle school, Aura had lived in several countries and from coast to coast of the United States. Currently, he is a Sophomore at Missouri S&T studying Electrical Engineering. When describing what the ceremony meant to him, he explained that “it helped me realize how lucky we are to live in this great country and how we must all do our part to help keep it that way.” The ceremony did not take very long; barely over a half an hour, but for all candidates it was a long journey to reach this final step.
For someone above the age of 18 years, obtaining a Green Card is the first step toward achieving citizenship. After the Green Card is obtained (which can be quite a task on its own), the individual has to live in the United States for 5 years. After this period of time, the prospective candidate will fill out an N-400, or application for naturalization, which Aura described as a “long form that takes an even longer time to get reviewed.” After this form is processed, a biometrics appointment is scheduled where the candidate fills out another form of information and their picture and fingerprints are obtained for official government records.
Subsequently, the next appointment is to take the test for citizenship comprised of three parts: speaking English, writing English, and American History and Civics questions. This step in the process posed the largest hurdle for Aura to overcome. “I had always gone to St. Louis for my other appointments; however, my citizenship test was in Kansas City and I did not read the form close enough and showed up to the St. Louis immigration services accidentally. I had to get it rescheduled and it took two months before I could retake it.”
The final tasks took place at the Naturalization Ceremony. At the ceremony, the candidates turned in their green cards in addition to signing an oath of Allegiance. In unison, the collection of candidates repeated the oath of obligation to the US and finally became official US citizens. With his new citizenship status, Aura is planning to apply for an United States passport next and complete his voter registration form so that he can perform his civic duty of voting in future elections.