Sunday, August 30, 2009
Mowgli Prepares to Take the Plunge
Now and then during our engagement, people would ask me if my Indian-born fiance was a citizen, which I took as a polite way of asking if I was marrying him so he could remain in the U.S. I would reply that he wasn't, but that he had his green card. For those who didn't know me well and/or seemed unaware of the implications of that, I'd add that he didn't need to marry me to stay in the country.
In a nutshell, once you have taken the necessary steps to get a green card, you may come and go as you like, and live legally in the U.S. for the next 10 years. After that, if you haven't already become a citizen, you have three choices: renew it, return to your home country, or apply for citizenship.
My darling husband Mowgli (not his real name) is taking the third option, so yesterday, we went to a camera shop to get passport-style photos of him to send with his application. He took great care with his grooming, ironed his crisp white shirt for approximately one hour, and worried about his handsomeness level -- all business as usual for him.
Once the application is filed, he'll be notified about when to show up for the naturalization test, which consists of a reading and writing test of English, and a verbal civics test. Once upon a time, it consisted of a list of 20 questions, but now there are 100, all about the branches, history and mechanics of our government. Ten of those 100 are asked during the interview, and you have to get at least six right to pass.
Since Mowgli is known in certain circles as an American History trivia team ringer, I don't think he'll have any trouble with that. But I'm not sure I could pass that test if I had to take it today.
I know that the President vetoes bills and that FDR was President during World War II, but if they asked me when the Constitution was written, I'd be all like, um, after 1776? And while I was happy to see questions about Native Americans and Susan B. Anthony in there, I think the one about the Pledge of Allegiance is a mite tricky.
The INS provides a free booklet of the 100 questions and their answers, and you can go online to get free flashcards. But if you take a look at the photo of my old copy of "Our American Government" below, you'll see how seriously I took civics class.