DVIDS – News – Path to citizenship returns to RTC


For the first time since 2017, the Recruit Training Command (RTC) held a naturalization ceremony on March 17, in which 25 recruits from 17 countries recited the naturalization oath of allegiance to the United States of America and have officially become US citizens.

The ceremony, which took place at the USS Yorktown Visitor Center, was conducted by the Honorable Judge Heather McShain, a magistrate judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Region Legal Service Office (RLSO) Midwest are working with the RTC to expedite citizenship for qualified recruits under Section 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows for accelerated naturalization of foreigners and serving non-citizen nationals in active duty status.

Naturalization ceremonies were halted in 2017 due to a DoD policy extending the time service members had to serve before becoming eligible for citizenship. That changed on February 2, with the signing of Executive Order 14012, which requires the Department of Homeland Security and USCIS to facilitate military naturalization.

“During [processing days], recruits are screened for citizenship status and a list of non-US citizens for a training group is compiled,” said RTC Naturalization Officer Lt. Leslie Liang. “The naturalization team representative is responsible for sitting down with recruits to complete their military or naval service certification application and naturalization application forms.”

After the application and all additional required documents are mailed and processed, recruits are interviewed by USCIS and must pass an English and civics test. If the naturalization application is granted, the RTC naturalization team works to coordinate a ceremony with USCIS and the Illinois District Court. From start to finish, the process takes about eight weeks.

“Recruits should ensure that they bring all documents related to naturalization to the RTC, such as a green card, passport, ID card, marriage certificate and divorce decree,” said Liang. “[They] receive a study guide for the interview and the civics test after applying and are encouraged to study the material in preparation for their interview.

One recruit who received her citizenship during this ceremony was Airman Luisa Sanchez, a Columbia native who joined the New Jersey Navy.

“It’s very nice because it’s something you’ve had in your mind for years and you knew you had to work for it because nobody gave it to you for free,” Sanchez said. “Now that I’m a citizen, I can travel to more countries without having to worry about being back in the United States in six months, and I can apply for a better job in the Navy.”

Sanchez, who is currently enrolled in the Airman Professional Apprenticeship Career Tracks program, said her dream job was to be able to work on submarines.

“Now with my citizenship I can actually do that,” she said.

Sanchez’s celebration didn’t end with his newly acquired citizenship. The next day, she graduated from boot camp and became an American sailor, with her mother and father watching in the audience.

Her father also just received his citizenship and had nothing but praise for his daughter at the call of freedom.

“I’m really happy because now she can start a new life and have new opportunities, and I’m really happy for my daughter,” he said.

Liang is very attached to the RTC’s naturalization program for personal reasons and is honored to be part of the program’s reinstatement.

“The program is very near and dear to my heart. My parents were born in China and immigrated to America in the early 1990s,” Liang said. “After residing in America with their permanent resident card (green card) for about 20 years, they were finally naturalized as American citizens. In the same way that my parents had the opportunity to come to America to seek a better future for our family, I am more than ecstatic to be able to help others naturalize.

Liang said he hopes RTC will continue with a monthly ceremony due to the success of the program restart.

Boot camp lasts approximately 10 weeks and all enlisted in the US Navy begin their career in command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control as well as lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and warfare. discipline. More than 40,000 recruits train each year at the Navy’s boot camp alone.
For more information on the Recruit Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/rtc

Date taken: 29.03.2022
Date posted: 29.03.2022 12:53
Story ID: 417393

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