Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/washington/news.aspx?id=128615
Story Retrieval Date: 5/22/2013 12:35:39 AM CST
WASHINGTON--Seaman Joao Moreira came to the United States when he was eight to join his mother. The Peruvian native swore in as an American on Thursday at the National Mall.
He joined 24 other new citizens as part of this year's Public Service Recognition Week events.
Even a wet day did not deter the citizens from taking their oaths. This year alone, more than 400,000 people received their citizenship nationwide as of March 31, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Many new citizens have to wait years to be naturalized. In 2008, the median wait time for transition from legal permanent residency to citizenship was nine years. Permanent legal residents must satisfy a number of conditions. Among others, applicants must be 18 and proficient in English.
There are a few unique circumstances that qualify some immigrants for a speedier process. Servicemen like Moreira are eligible to be fast tracked. Spouses and children of U.S. citizens in the military are also given special dispensation and can naturalize in three years rather than five.
An all-time record 1,046,539 people naturalized last year, a 58 percent jump from the previous year.
For more information about the naturalization process, follow this link.