Citizenship Ceremonies Continue Despite COVID-19

Some of Nebraska’s newest citizens share their thoughts on the day they became naturalized Americans.

31 immigrants from 18 countries became naturalized U.S. citizens in Omaha, Nebraska on May 14. Yusufu Bonomale, originally of Zimbabwe, was one of them.

Bononale, much like many immigrants, came over to study in 2003. 18 years later he is a proud naturalized American citizen and describes the day as “definitely one of the most important landmarks in my life … It is not like a birthday; it is a one time thing … A very honorable day for me.”

On an average day, the USCIS will welcome 3,195 new U.S. citizens in naturalization ceremonies. Hilda Castaneda came over as a child from El-Salvador, where her single mother could not provide for Hilda and her sister. Today, Castaneda holds a college degree in Business Administration and is a LinkedIn employee.

Castaneda did not encounter much difficulty in preparing for the citizenship test because most of the content she had learned during high school. However, she turned to USCIS’s website to retrieve the information needed to prepare for the test.

The USCIS has a wealth of information about the citizenship on its website. The test is one of the main and final components of the process and each candidate must answer 10 out of 100 questions.

The USCIS is huge, with a workforce of 19,000 federal employees and contractors that process more than 8 million immigration and naturalization benefit requests each year.

William Connor directs the Omaha Field Office that serves the state of Nebraska, South Dakota and Western Iowa. He assisted with the citizenship ceremony on May 14.  Connor says that his office is open for operations, but only at 25% capacity. Some procedures are abbreviated for time due to the pandemic. Normally, the citizenship ceremony would end with a message from the president. The USCIS has now cut the message for time and has instead made it public on its website.

The USCIS has recently put a lot of weight on the online application.

The website is easy to navigate, and here are four ways to keep up with immigration information from USCIS:

  1. Check uscis.gov  for official information about the legal immigration system in the U.S. (uscis.gov/es for Spanish-language information). The site is popular and ranks high in satisfaction by users.
  2. Follow USCIS social media accounts: Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
  3. Receive email updates by subscribing to GovDelivery. They never send unsolicited emails, and you can choose which updates you want to receive.
  4. Check out the Department of Homeland Security’s Social Hub which features live social media conversations from all DHS components.

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June 22, 2021

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