Many people around the world dream of becoming United States citizens but the process can be long and complicated however, for those serving in the United States military, the naturalization process is more streamlined.
U.S. service members and their families may be eligible for certain immigration benefits in recognition of their important sacrifices. Current service members may be eligible to become U.S. citizens through naturalization under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). These provisions reduce or eliminate certain general requirements for naturalization, including the requirements for the applicant to have resided in and been physically present in the United States for a specific period of time before naturalizing.
Culinary Specialist Seaman Apprentice (CSSA) Claude Ojong and Culinary Specialist Seaman Recruit Emmanuel Anderson both joined the Navy in 2019 and after boot camp and A-School, reported to Pre-Commissioning Unit Fort Lauderdale (LPD 28) and began the naturalization process after being in the military for one year.
Ojong is originally from Cameroon, Africa. Anderson is originally from Ivory Coast, Africa but lived in Ghana, Africa for 9 years prior to moving to the United States. Both agree there are major differences between their home countries and America.
“I would say the United States is more advanced in technology as far as education is concerned,” said Anderson. “Connectivity is much less in Africa as compared to the USA. Ghana has poor infrastructure as well. Ghana is said to be one of the richest country in minerals and resources but due to the lack of knowledge and poor communication among leaders, we are always lagging.”
Ojong added “In my country job opportunities are less compared to United States and my leaders are less for the people and more concerned with themselves.”
Both joined the Navy for very different reasons.
“I joined the navy for college tuition assistance in pursuing my goal in becoming a physician,” said Anderson. “I could’ve been in any other branch, but I guess the very first to approach me was a Navy veteran. He educated and inspired me on how the Navy would help me meet my goals.”
Ojong joined the Navy to know more about the law of the land and it has been his desire to serve in the military which he found that in joining the Navy.
“I look forward to gaining multiple certifications and qualifications to use in the civilian world,” Ojong said.
Becoming a United States citizen has opened many doors for both Sailors and they are both grateful for the opportunity to join the Navy.
“Apparently, in the civilian world, I would have to wait 5 years to become a citizen and sometimes longer,” Anderson son. “I obtained my citizenship in less than 3 years. I am grateful and want to thank the United States Navy together with my chain of command and all other supporters for this great opportunity. I look forward to obtain my bachelor’s degree using the educational benefits the Navy offers and also work towards other educational programs.”
Anderson and Ojong expressed the gratitude and emotion they felt when they raised their right hand and recited the Oath of Allegiance, “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”
“The process was excellent,” said Ojong. “I gained more knowledge about American history and feel great pride to be an American.”
Both Sailors were naturalized on March 4, 2022 at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in New Orleans.
Between 2017-2021 the United States Navy has naturalized 4,500 Sailors, 15.2% of the total naturalizations in the military.