Seattle DO - N-400 timeline

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United States

My wife and I went for our interviews yesterday which went well and we did attend a same day oath ceremony at the Seattle office yesterday - we are finally US citizens. Here is my experience:

Our interviews were scheduled for 7:00 AM, we entered the building around 6:50 AM, there was only one person ahead of us. We were told to go and sit in the waiting/sitting area upstairs and by 7:10 AM there were around 10 people including us in the waiting area. My wife was the first one to be called at 7:15 AM, then the person ahead of us was called in next around 7:20 AM followed by other people in line, randomly every 5 - 10 minutes. My wife was out after 10 minutes and said everything went well, the interviewing officer was very pleasant and did not ask to see any documents. She did go through the entire N-400 application but did not stress on anything in particular. After the interview and test, she was told that she was approving her application for citizenship and pending the outcome of my interview, she could schedule my wife for a same day oath ceremony.

I was called at 8:00 AM, an hour after waiting for my turn and a very pleasant lady officer walked me to her office. She repeatedly apologized for the long wait before starting with the N-400 application. She went line by line, confirming both my spouse's and my details followed by our children's date of births. She wanted to know where I worked and what I did. We had a little chat, talked about Seattle and Washington in general. Then when the portion detailing time spent out of the US came, she wanted me to explain that in more detail. This is a suggestion that will be helpful for anyone/everyone who has traveled more than a few times and has a some entries in that portion of the application: Since I had about 7 travel entries that were longer than 24 hours, outside of the US, during the 5 years prior to submitting my application, and 5 entries since submission of the application, I knew this portion would be receiving more scrutiny during the interview. I had also forgotten to mention one trip on my application and even although some entries were just over night trips by road to Vancouver, they had to be documented. For this purpose, based on advice from a colleague I created a spreadsheet that looked very similar to what's on the application with the same column names but added 2 more columns titled Notes 1 and Notes 2. Here I listed each trip, very much like what was on the application but provided a bit more details in the Notes column. The first column listed which city I visited (eg. Canada - Vancouver) and the second Notes column was only for trips that involved a flight (i.e. if my passport was stamped). I made color copies of all pages of my passport that had departure/arrival stamps on them and attached them under this spreadsheet cover page. The Notes 2 column would say which page of the passport to look for those stamps. This might seem like overkill for a lot of folks but my case was very different than most others. I did not want the officer to look at my passports and the various trips and not being able to co-relate them, to end up suggesting that she would not be able to make a decision and would need more time for this. The spreadsheet was indeed very helpful, she seemed delighted that everything was documented, and cross-checked some of the entries with actual stamps in the 2 passports (I had showed her my 4 previous expired passports also that I had numbered). She then asked some questions about the particular cities I had visited and listed and my purpose for the visits and I replied back with whether I was visiting for work, eg. a wedding or just sight-seeing with the family. I think with everything in front of her, my visits appeared more transparent and she moved on to the remaining portion of the application.

On the questions regarding Arrest or convictions, I told her I was unsure about listing 2 traffic tickets I had received, the last one in 2003. Fortunately I had copies of my Defensive Driving completion courses I had taken back then when we lived in Dallas, TX along with a Texas Drivers License record I purchased online that showed only one ticket entry and that it had been cleared with a defensive driving course. She made copies of both documents and thanked me again for letting her know about the citations although they had occurred almost 13 years ago. We then went through the last 2 pages of the application with the Yes and No answers. Finally she said she would take the English and Civics test:

1. Please write "We pay taxes".
2. Read "The government is for the people"
Answer these questions:
3. What is freedom of religion?
4. How many senators are there?
5. Ocean on the east coast of the United States?
6. One state that borders Canada?
7. When was the declaration of Independence?
8. When does one have to register for Selective Service?

She asked what had brought me to America and why did I want to get naturalized. Answer: I'd been living here for 18 years and this was now home. After this she said she would be recommending my application for approval but would need confirmation from her supervisor. She walked me back out to the waiting area and said she'd let me know in a few minutes of the final decision. My interview lasted about 30 minutes. After a few minutes, the officer who had interviewed my wife came out and gave her a letter stating she had passed her interview and that she come for the 1:15 PM oath. About 10 minutes later my interviewing officer came out, called my name, congratulated me saying my case was approved and gave me a similar letter for the 1:15 PM oath.

We were back at the USCIS building around 12:00 PM for the Oath and were led straight back up to the waiting area. At 1:15 PM, 3 officers showed up and asked the crowd of approx. 60-70 folks whether all of us were here for the oath ceremony? All friends and family were asked to go downstairs and wait in the auditorium. The remaining 52 oath applicants were asked to form lines and given oath ceremony packets with seat numbers written on them. Our green cards were taken from us and placed in a plastic bag. We were all instructed to then proceed downstairs into the auditorium to our designated seats. The Oath ceremony lasted about an hour, there were 52 applicants from 25 countries. It was a nice ceremony, very similar to what other folks have described in detail previously. Towards the end we were each called on stage and handed over our citizenship certificates. We took some pictures, registered to vote (there was a lady standing in a corner with voter registration forms) and then when all was done, exited and left for home. And just an FYI but at this time, the Seattle USCIS office has same day Oath ceremonies all 4 working week days except Fridays. 

My wife and I applied for our US passports at our local Redmond Court House today morning. The lines are shorter (there is usually no one there) and hope to receive them in the next 4 - 6 weeks.

That everyone is the end of a very long wait. Some of you might have read some of my earlier posts over the years but it's been a long journey: came to the US 18 years ago, received green cards almost 8 years ago and then had to wait exactly 3 years from the time we filed our N-400s till the day we became US citizens. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask.

Citizenship and Naturalization: