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Becoming an American citizen. A Frenchman in Los Angeles.

American Flag Watercolor

Being born and raised in France, I am a French citizen but 5 years ago I decided to apply for an American citizenship. I am often asked these 2 questions, “France is such a nice country, why did you immigrate to the US?” and “Why did you decide to become an American citizen?”

I always find it fascinating how someone’s path and life can change just by making one decision. And I can pinpoint this moment in my life that changed everything for me and brought me along another 5,000 people in a gigantic room in Los Angeles to swear allegiance to the flag. Ironically, it was never my intention to move to the US or to become an American citizen.

But life decided otherwise. After living in France for 23 years, England for one year, and Hong Kong for 5 years, I ended up in Los Angeles, California. I was sent here to develop the American market and expand the client base for an Indian company based in Hong Kong. I applied for a Green Card that took 6 years to be approved.

After 10 years living in a country, you know if it feels right or not and America felt like home. That feeling kind of sneaked up on me, I realized it on the flight back from visiting my family in France when the Captain announced that we were starting our descent and will be soon landing at LAX. I surprised myself thinking “finally home”. Los Angeles was where I made my life and settled without noticing it, it just happened, naturally, effortlessly.

When my Green Card expired, I had two choices: renew it for 10 years or apply for my citizenship. It forced me to look at where I was in my life and where I wanted to be for the years to come. It also forced me to decide how involved I wanted to be in the American life. I wanted to be able to make a difference and to take part, it was almost like a duty. Our ancestors fought for our freedom (freedom of speech, religion, and the press) and for our rights (right to peaceful protest and to petition the government) that we too often take for granted. Not taking advantage of them will be an insult to their fight and sacrifices. To honor the people still fighting every day for their freedom and their rights, I applied for my citizenship. I am now an American citizen: I can be involved, enjoy freedom and rights, and fulfill my duties.

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