News | April 25, 2013

Rota Welcomes Newest U.S. Citizens During Ceremony

By Morgan Over, NAVSTA Rota Public Affairs

 Naval Station Rota Spain welcomed seven new United States citizens as they took the oath of allegiance to the United States during a Naturalization ceremony held in the Region Legal Service Office courtroom of the Community Service Building March 13. Region Legal Service Office Legal Assistance Attorney Lt. Carina Podgorski welcomed the applicants and spoke of the importance this day.

"It's an honor to be here and share this day with you. By choosing to become a citizen of our nation, you take a place in a long line of immigrants and others who have done so much for our country," said Podgorski. "In my experience, my mother came from Cuba when she was 12, my grandfather from Poland and my grandmother from Italy. I was obviously not there at their Naturalization ceremonies, but it is a great honor for your family and friends to witness this day. It's an important day for them as well as for you. It's something that you will always remember, like getting married or having a birthday, this is another important day in your life you will always remember."

NAVSTA Rota Executive Officer Cmdr. Patrick Moran officially welcomed the applicants and spoke of the opportunity they will have by becoming U.S. citizens. "The reason the United States is great is because, you've all heard this, it's a melting pot. Now you're about to officially be part of that melting pot," said Moran "With all the opportunities that will be presented to you by becoming citizens is that it's also a great responsibility. I encourage you to get involved. Make sure you get involved in the voting process. Uphold your civic duties. Be part of what is going on. You're given a tremendous opportunity, take advantage of it. Take advantage of the benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen and contribute to it. It's a great thing. Congratulations." Kenneth Ellis, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Rome, spoke to the applicants before administering the oath of allegiance. "It was my honor [March 12] to interview these seven applicants for naturalization. Today, we will present the oath of allegiance," said Ellis. "We have seven candidates for Naturalization from five different countries.

Each of them has been examined by a USCIS officer and has been found to be of good moral character and attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States. Each of them has been found to be eligible in every respect for United States citizenship." Podgorski assists individuals in becoming a U.S. citizens. Candidates are able to complete the process locally in Rota rather than flying back to the United States. They can submit the application through the mail. The paperwork is then transferred to Rome. Applicants then go through an interview with USCIS in Rome or in Rota when the USCIS officer comes to the base.

"During the interview, the applicant's knowledge of English (speaking, reading and writing) ,U.S. history and government is tested," said Podgorski. "The applicant will also have to answer questions about his or her background and character. After the interview, the individual's application for citizenship will either be granted, denied or put on hold." An active duty military applicant will have similar application process as the spouse of a military member.

One difference is all application fees are waived for an applying service member but not for the spouse, said Podgorski "Becoming a U.S. citizen gives legal permanent residents new rights and privileges," said Podgorski. "Citizenship also brings with it new responsibilities. It is a privilege, not a right, to be a U.S. Citizen." For information on becoming a U.S. citizen, visit http://www.uscis.gov. All immigration forms, questions and answers, prices, addresses and instructions are on the website. There is a section dedicated military service members and their spouses who want to become U.S. citizens.