Today, I vote for the first time as an American citizen.
This may sound insignificant, but it means a lot to me, a first generation immigrant from France. This has been a long journey that I am proud to share with my husband and our two daughters. I moved to the United States almost ten years ago; I have lived in four states and I am now happy to call New Orleans my home. Becoming a citizen didn’t happen overnight, and it was never part of my “life plan.” Life has been full of surprises – good and bad – and I am waiting to see what comes next. But for now, the chapter of citizenship has come to an end. My immigration files are put away; my blue American passport shares a cover with my red French one. Becoming an American citizen not only means a lot because I now have the same nationality as my daughters and husband, but it has also been a long journey until today.
It means pages of paperwork, affidavits, copies of personal documents, and official translations.
It means 5 biometrics appointments to take fingerprints and photos.
It means 1 year of visa, 2 years of residency and 3 years of marriage to an American citizen.
It means over $3,000 of legal fees.
It means over $2,000 of green card and citizenship fees.
It means several hours of studying for the citizenship test.
It means what felt like days of waiting in line.
It means excitement mixed with fear at the sight of the immigration letters in the mail for all these years.
It means a beautiful ceremony with a judge speaking about access to education and freedom, in a room filled with people from more than 20 different nations.
So, why I am sharing this with you today?