Thursday, August 31, 2006


Yup, I passed the naturalisation interview.

I started out nervous. I reckon just finding the correct room at the supplied address, Room 1, 3110 North Central Avenue, is the first part of the test! That address just happens to be a collection of low buildings surrounded by an enormous car park and it's not at all obvious where Room 1 might be. Eventually I found, around the side and a *long* way from the front of the building, a doorway marked 'United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Interview Center (sic)' and through that door an elevator. The elevator led to room 250. Could have been worse; it might have been room 101!

Through security; they checked that my cigarette pack contained cigarettes! Then a not so long wait for the time to come. I'd arrived about 20 minutes ahead of time and it started 5 minutes past time.

First thing he did after introducing himself was swear me in. I'd been wondering if that was done on a bible because if so I'd have to ask for an affirmation[^] and I wasn't really sure how well that'd go down. Thinking about it later it was of course obvious that they really can't do a bible oath. What if the applicant is a Hindu? A Zoroastrian?

Then came the confirmation, out of my mouth, on oath, of everything I'd put in the application. The application is about fourteen pages long so it's a lot of questions. The answer to most of those questions should be no. No, I have not been a member of the communist party. No, I have not been arrested for drunk driving. You have no idea how silly it feels to repeat no 40 times...

And then, suddenly, the expected answer changes to yes. Do you support the constitution and form of government of the United States. Don't let the 40 nos before that trip you up!

So we get to the end of that and it's time for the English and civics tests. This is going to sound sarcastic and, to a certain extent, I think the sarcasm is deserved. On the other hand, at least the US does make an effort, no matter how token, to test that it's prospective citizens have a grasp of English.

First came the English reading test. You have to understand that he's running some kind of software on a screen out of my view; hints he dropped indicate that the tests are randomised. So he hits a button and the printer whirrs and out comes a sheet of paper with a sentence, in English, on it. He hands me the paper and asks me to read it out loud.

'He wanted to talk with his boss.'

So I read it out and he (the interviewer) then asks me what it means. *shrug* how much critical analysis can one apply to such a sentence?

'He wanted to talk to his boss' I said.

Tick! Passed the English reading test. Time for the English writing test. The printer whirrs again and out comes another page. This time he folds it in half so I can't see or copy the sentence. He dictates it to me and I write it down.

'He had a very big dog!'

Yeah, I stuck the exclamation point on the sentence when I wrote it down. Methinks the original ending was a full stop (period). He looks at what I wrote and comments that I've spelled it correctly. Tick! Passed the English writing test.

Now it's time for the civics test. Here, in the order, as best I remember it, are the 10 randomly generated questions.

What is Congress?
What colour are the stars on the flag?
What colour are the stripes on the flag?
What colours are used on the flag?
Name three rights guaranteed by the bill of rights?
Why did the Pilgrims come to America?
What do the stars on the flag represent?
What is the highest court in the land?
Who was President during the civil war?

Dammit, I can't remember the tenth question but it was equally easy. Got 10 out of 10!

I commented ruefully that I hadn't been asked what the first 13 colonies were. He admitted that he hated it when that question came up; he could never remember if Maine was one. I told him it wasn't :-)

After that was a wait of a couple of minutes while he went through my case file (a file that's about 2 inches thick, I kid you not!). When he got to the list of my marriages he commented 'You've been married three times?' with a tone of voice that seemed to imply that he felt three was quite enough. I couldn't resist; 'Check my wifes marriages!'. He did. 'Wow, four?'. lol

All was satisfactory and he approved me. We shook hands and he complimented me on the completeness of my application. Apparently most applicants don't follow instructions and supply everything they want; tax records from IRS, proof of joint finances, marriage and divorce certificates. WTF? The forms are very clear on those points.

I went outside and enjoyed the most wonderful cigarette!


Maaaaatttttttteeeeeeee said...

Sheeez . . . me best mates a YANK!
Streeewth cobber, you coulda beat me down with a dingos donga when i realised you'll probably start talkn REAL loud and wearing even louder shirts. I'm sure the earth has shifted on its axis just a little. Things will never be the same eh . . . at least that remains a constant. Congrats from your maaaaaaaaaaaaaaattttttttttttttttte.

Rob said...

Listen up pal. Yank or not I'll still be as Australian as a shit sandwich and don't you forget it! :-)

Maaaaatttttttteeeeeeee said...

Well . . . . I wont be eating sandwiches at your place!