Burnett & Williams

Becoming a United States Citizen

Becoming a United States Citizen

Our colleague David was recently sworn in as a US citizen — congratulations, David!

David Brown Crouching with US Citizen paperwork

As some of you may know, our colleague David (who works as a paralegal and business manager in our Midlothian office) is from Scotland. We are thrilled to report that David — along with his wonderful Scottish accent! — is now officially a citizen of the United States. Congratulations, David! 

Becoming a US citizen is an incredibly big and meaningful event in anyone’s life, and we’ll let David tell his story:

My official journey to becoming a United States citizen began back in 2016, when I became a Green Card holder — in other words I was now officially a permanent resident of the United States. My wife is an American citizen, which means that I needed to be a permanent resident for three years before I could apply for citizenship (the requirement is five years otherwise). In October of 2019, after I had reached my three-year residency milestone, I decided to celebrate my eligibility in the most special way I could: I surprised my wife with my US citizenship application for our wedding anniversary. 

The next step in the citizenship process was my official face-to-face interview, which happened in January 2020. On that day I also undertook my civics test, which evaluates your knowledge of US history and government. For the test, a United States Citizen and Immigration Services officer asks the applicant up to 10 questions from a list of 100 questions, in English. In order to pass the civics test, you must correctly answer 6 of the 10 questions. I’d been studying hard for a number of months, and I passed with the first six questions!

David Brown Standing with US Citizenship paper

And then, as we all know, the coronavirus pandemic struck. As with so many other agencies and businesses, the offices of US Citizenship and Immigration Services closed, which delayed my swearing-in as a citizen. I was uncertain how long the wait would be, and I was thrilled when USCIS offices partially reopened in early June so that citizenship ceremonies could be conducted. I received notice that I was assigned to the USCIS Norfolk Field Office for my ceremony — I had been expecting my swearing-in to happen in front of a judge at the Richmond Federal Courthouse, but I was told that because it is an election year the ceremonies are being held at field offices.

The day I had been anticipating for so long finally came on June 18th: I reported to the Norfolk Field Office to officially become a US citizen. In order to keep all of the participants safely socially distanced, only 12 people were allowed to be sworn in at once, and masks were required to be worn by all to ensure that no one would unknowingly spread COVID-19. Needless to say, those health and safety restrictions did nothing to dampen the joy and excitement of the day! 

Throughout my morning in Norfolk, 108 people were sworn in; I was part of the ninth and last group for the day. In my group of 12, there were people of 12 different nationalities from around the world becoming citizens. It was incredibly inspiring to me to see so many people with different backgrounds coming together to unite under one flag. We read aloud the Oath of Allegiance to be sworn in as citizens, and each of us proudly received our Certificates of Naturalization.

As a US Citizen now, I am able to vote and apply for a US Passport. The Scottish accent has not disappeared but I am proud to call myself an American citizen, the same as my wife and child, and nothing could make me happier.