Becoming a US Citizen: A Frenchman turned naturalized American

brooklyn bridge new york new york

Can anyone understand the French Accent?

Everything Yannick knew of the States had come from what saw on television as a child. The music he listed to was American. The popular T.V. shows and movies were American. The clothes I think they were French actually. Needless to say, when Mr. French (Yannick) arrived in the States in the winter of 2010, he was curious to see if all he saw on the television was the same in real life. Would people speak the same way they did on Friends? Was New York as smelly in the summer? Can anyone understand my French accent?

He was living in Connecticut at the time, trying to figure out his place in the American hair industry. The hair industry in Connecticut, after all, was different from what he had experienced in Paris, France. It’s well known that the French do not spend their days worrying about their hair or appearance as much as their American counterparts. Hair color, hair cuts, and over style should come across as an effortless event.

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Brooklyn Bridge, New York City. Brooklyn is where you can get your citizenship in America as a French native
Brooklyn Bridge, New York City

A part of him was excited for a change of pace and priority. How much could he do? How much could be learned? Sure, a part of him must have missed being able to speak to his clients fluently, or at the very least have them be able to fully understand him. Fast-forward 10 years later, and he’s working in Soho New York with a fantastic clientele base, speaking fluent English with his clients, and has mastered the American hair scene.

Becoming an American citizen as a French native is something that can come across as relativity easy however there are still American Citizenship requirements that need to be completed

Do you really want to become an United States Naturalized Citizen?

Although he loved doing hair in the States, Yannick never wanted to stay in America forever, let alone become an American. That all changed once I got past the first trimester of pregnancy. Life became real. His child would be Franco- American. Half French and Half American. Having a baby changes your perspective. That perspective had him seeing red, white, and blue.

We started the process of Yannick becoming a naturalized citizen in March 2019. I figured it would be fast and painless. Maybe six months or so. When we began to look a bit more closely into all the paperwork and travel restrictions, it became apparent that we were going to be playing the waiting game. If everything went according to plan, he would have his citizenship shortly after the baby was born.

First on the road to becoming a naturalized citizen 

Make sure to obtain your permanent residency.

Yannick was well into his late 30s before starting the citizenship path, so number 1 was quickly crossed off the list. Next was the issue of permanent residency. As a general rule of thumb, one must be a green card holder for approximately five years before applying for citizenship. Mr. French was a green card holder for eight years when he finally decided to become a U.S. citizen. Had we decided to move back to France, he would have lost his permanent resident status and had to start the waiting game once more. 

Downtown Manhattan, New York, NY. You can also become naturalized in Manhattan if you reside there as a French native
Downtown Manhattan, New York, NY. French citizens can take their test in Manhattan if it’s their permanent residence.


Next, we had to deal with the following: 

3. Physical residency, residency where for art thou residency.

4. Are you physically in the states?

5. Continuous residency? How hard can that be?

Living in New York City for the past ten years made this part a breeze. The city had become his new home, but it would have become a tricky mess had we been jet-setting all around the world instead of staying put continuously in New York for a good chunk of time. Without continuous residency, he could have kissed citizenship goodbye. The golden rule is don’t leave the states for more than six months at a time.

Becoming a US Citizen: A Frenchman turned naturalized American
Must understand the United States of American laws in order to become a naturalized citizen as a French native

I never imagined the next part would come into question but low and behold.

6. Having a good moral character. I hope you haven’t broken any laws.

This was when his good moral character came into question. Yannick had one job, stay on the straight and narrow while in the states, and abroad there were no worries. This Frenchman’s only guilty charge was eating all the ice cream in the fridge and watching one too many episodes of Dexter. Be sure to answer this section honestly and thoroughly. Once you send off your answers, you’re going to be waiting for a good seven to eight months before you hear back about the civics test is. Yannick had completed his paperwork in March 2019 and remained until late October 2019 before hearing about when his official civics test would be.

Nothing to worry about here.

7. Sharing American principles.

Demonstrating an attachment to the U.S. principles and ideals laid out in the Constitution. After being in the States for so long, the American principals morphed into who Yannick was. Perhaps reshaping his thinking as a Frenchman in many ways. It’s hard to imagine someone becoming a naturalized citizen unless they already agreed with those ideals. 

French natives must know the meaning of we the people before taking their American citizenship test
“We The People” Naturalization question

Studying can be a lot of fun

8. Better start studying.

Yannick’s ability to demonstrate a basic understanding of American history was going to be tested next. Although the questions were standard American history, you may be surprised how many Americans do not know the answers to these questions. He certainly was not going to take this section lightly. He knew he would pass the reading, writing, and listening portion of the test as he had already overcome the language barrier many years before. Thank goodness for him. He spent his off time reading the study book and letting me quiz him each night before bed. It all paid off because when the testing day rolled around in mid-November. No surprise to me, he passed with 100%. 


The moment of truth

9. Ready for the Oath?

Last but certainly not least, he was asked to take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States about three weeks after passing the test. In between that period, you want to make sure you are being a good seed and staying put in The States. You can easily be denied due to a change in status, i.e., leaving the country for longer than allowed. The ceremony took four hours and in which you give back your green card and are instead giving your naturalization certification. 

Now all he has to do is fill out paperwork for his American passport and voilà he’s a Frenchman turned American. Of course, he will always be a Frenchman with the French state of mind in many ways, but now he will have the official American touch. Becoming a U.S. Citizen was a long journey, but one that was worth every second.

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