Sunday, September 10, 2006

So much for pessimism

Back in April[^] I rather pessimistically concluded that I was more than a year away from even being interviewed for my suitability as a candidate for US Citizenship.

As you already know, that pessimism turned out to be unfounded; I had the interview at the end of August and was waiting for the oath ceremony. I was checking the mailbox daily.

Sonya felt I was being a trifle optimistic but, as I pointed out to her, it's in their interest to minimise the gap between interview and oath; the longer the gap the greater the chance of a circumstance changing that would increase their workload.

And I was right to be optimistic! The appointment letter arrived today and I am summonned to the US District Courthouse for the District of Arizona, 401 W Washington Street on September 29th for the oath.

Some USCIS district offices offer same day oath ceremonies but apparently the bulk of district offices don't. Certainly Phoenix doesn't.

As you'd expect, if the interview digs into one's past with particular reference to criminal history and offences of moral turpitude that would render one ineligible for citizenship it then follows that there's a requirement that the candidate not have become unsuitable in the gap between interview and oath! (Phew, I thought that sentence would never end!).

Thus my appointment letter has a list of questions on the back; have I committed a crime since the interview for which I have not been arrested? Have I been convicted of an offence? Have I had a speeding ticket? Yes, you read that right. Even a speeding ticket can have an effect. I imagine they're looking for a pattern in that particular instance rather than a single offence.

And the two I love. Have I become a member of the communist party? They're really really paranoid about that spent force! The other? Have I engaged in polygamy or been a prostitute? I reckon that if I relied on prostitution as my source of income I'd have starved to death years ago!

Oh, I also have to indicate if I've been outside the US - there are physical presence requirements.

I hope that my writing here about the process can help to convince just one American that it's not as easy as it sounds! There's quite an onus of proof on any candidate; that 'free' route to citizenship that gets bandied about is anything but trivial.

And if you think not then go back three or four paragraphs and reread the question list. Have I committed a crime since the interview for which I have not been arrested? That's the out; the method by which any naturalised person can lose citizenship.

But there I go being pessimistic again. Let's be optimistic instead. 19 and a bit days at the time of writing until I become a US Citizen. And, as Iain Clarke pointed out in response to my Approved![^] post, I'll lose half my blogging material. Bummer! :-)

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