On February 28th 2019 Marianela Fernandez became a citizen of the United States after 18 years of living in America. 18 years ago she arrived in America to study with a student visa which you do not need citizenship for. This student visa later morphed into a working visa, again no citizenship was required. The longer she stayed here this turned into a green card. This allowed her to to work and and live in the United States permanently with more restrictions than a full citizenship. After 5 years of living with a green card she was eligible for citizenship and Marianela though the time was right for her to become one.
The process of becoming a US citizen is a little bit complicated. Marianela had to go through background checks, a test, and had to repeat an oath. The background checks include fingerprints, and a “name check,” checking for any traces of a criminal background. The oath is called the oath of allegiance that all people who wish to become citizens recite aloud. She also had to take a 100 question test. The material on this test were questions about American history and current American politics. The difference betwee
n a green card and a citizenship is that if you have a green card you are not able to leave the country for over 6 months and you do not have the right to vote. With a citizenship you are able to do these things.
“I’m so ready to vote!” said Marianela joyfully.
Marianela became a citizen the same time her husband did. She talked a lot about how the timing was perfect. She had been living here for 18 years and only now felt she was ready. It is a big deal becoming a citizen somewhere else because it means resigning from your former citizenships which would mean resigning her citizenship from the place she was born. She thought the experience would be “bittersweet” but in fact she thought the process was lovely and more easy than expected. When saying the oath Marianela got very emotional. The words and phrases in the oath reminded her of everything America has done for her and her family. She thought of the students at City and Country and the experience of teaching here.
Originally Marianela thought she would visit America, study here for a while, and then return back to Argentina. But every year she stayed she got more and more attached to the way of life and the people here. She mostly observed the American culture until her first daughter, Vera, was born. After that she really wanted to get involved in the culture and living full time here.