NORFOLK (NNS) -- Eighteen Sailors assigned to the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group were sworn in by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a naturalization ceremony in Truman's forecastle Jan. 21.
"After spending the past 18 years of my life attempting to become a U.S. citizen, I feel especially honored," said Culinary Specialist Seaman Rene Perez. "I believe that without the Navy's assistance with getting my paperwork reviewed I might have spent many more years waiting for this moment."
Any service member who enlisted using a green card or VISA and has at least one day of active duty service is eligible to become a U.S. citizen.
"This process for a civilian would typically be a long, exasperating ordeal that could potentially cost that individual anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars," said Lt. Brian Haagensen, USS Harry S. Truman "mini judge" and naturalization coordinator. "However, with one day of active duty service, a service member's application is usually processed within three to four months and is of no cost to the service member."
In order to begin the process for U.S. citizenship, service members can contact their command's Legal department to request the forms that must be completed and mailed to USCIS.
"In order to ensure USCIS receives the paperwork, service members are encouraged to call their local USCIS chapter to check on the status of their application," said Haagensen.
Once the application is processed and all background checks are completed, the service member is notified and the final step is taken.
"There is an interview with a USCIS representative, and if found to be in good moral standing, the service member is granted U.S. citizenship," said Haagensen. "The process typically takes three or four months."
However, because the Truman Carrier Strike Group was deployed, the Sailors had to wait until the ship returned before being interviewed by the USCIS representative.
"It was a long process that I began in 'A' School," said Personnel Specialist Seaman Nwakama Nwafor. "Lt. Haagensen and his team in Legal were instrumental in making this dream possible."
Nwafor expressed deep gratitude for being afforded the opportunity to become a citizen of the U.S.
"It is a great honor to say I am now officially a citizen of the greatest country in the world," he said.
Any Sailor or Marine aboard Truman with questions about becoming U.S. citizens can contact any member of Truman's Legal team for assistance.
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.