Figured it’s time I contributed something after getting a lot of help from other posters here.
Done with the interview and oath ceremony early April/2012 in Baltimore. Application was sent early December/2011. Interview notification letter was received about a month before interview date. Also received a Yellow Letter stating listing the documents I needed to bring (state issued identification). BTW my GC was set to expire sometime later this year.
Arrived at 10:00AM for the the appointment scheduled at 11:00AM. Plenty of parking garages around – in fact there’s one right under the building. Glad I came early – there was a long line waiting to clear security to get into the building (blame tax time - the Fallon building hosts other government agency offices). At security there’s a prominent sign saying no cameras – haven’t they heard of camera phones? - Every other person was pecking away at their iPhone/Droid! My wife had a camera in her bag and I was worried that they will ask us to leave it behind. But they ignored it.
Interview waiting room was full – about 100-150 candidates/family waiting. Every few minutes the door opens and the next victim, oops candidate, is “invited” in. Or a smiling, relieved candidate walks out. Interesting to see the expressions of folks coming out – from poker faces to a lady who danced a little jig! By the time I was called around 12:30 or so there were less than 10 people waiting. My officer was, to put it mildly, less than welcoming when compared to other officers who at least had a smile on their faces. No smile, hello or small talk. Is it so difficult? Was taken to the office and administered the oath. Wanted my passport, GC and driver’s license. Without a break she jumped straight into the questions – got all 6 (supreme law, who signs bills, state capital and some others that I don’t remember) right and was done. Was then given a sheet of paper with 3 questions, one of them circled, and was asked to read it out aloud (What’s the largest state?). Panicked for a second since I didn’t know the answer (Calif/Texas?) - but then she jumped in and said “Alaska is the largest state”. Was made to write this answer on another sheet of paper. Passed the civics/speech/writing test.
And then on to the application. Quickly went through the first few pages. At one point she asked for my mobile number and email. Not sure about you folks but I always stumble when folks ask my phone number – who remembers it! Luckily this time around I blurted it out in a smooth and polished manner! . Then got to the section about being arrested, etc. I had all the paperwork for the traffic tix ready – but then all she asked me was “Have you ever been arrested?”. And I truthfully said no and let sleeping dogs lie!
After that I thought it was going to be smooth sailing and then – we came to the section that lists your children. I had my son listed, which she verified and then asked me if I had any other children or adopted children. And I said yes – my son is adopted. She wanted to see the adoption papers! Luckily for me, after reading all the posts here, I was paranoid enough and pretty much carried every single original document that I thought might be needed. And then she wanted copies of those documents. AWW COME ON... I was suitably servile and obsequious and said that I was not aware that these documents were even needed. She grumbled for a good 5 minutes and said that they don’t have time to make copies for every applicant. I continued to hem and haw and finally she got up, walked a few paces(!), made the copies and got back in a couple of minutes! FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE!
Finally she said everything was done and was finishing up the paperwork. And then she pops another question – how long did you stay with your company that sponsored the green card! That was 10 years ago! Wasn’t even sure how I could prove it. So said the company started the GC process in 1999 and that I left them in 2003 and have been with the present company since then. Among all that I didn’t mention that I got the GC in 6/2002 and left within 8 months – since I didn’t know if that was long enough!
And finally, this time for real, she said we are done. Wanted to know if I wanted to attend the oath ceremony the same day @ 3:00pm. Said - yes. Thought - HELL yes. And that was it – she walked me out. Was done around 12:45 or so.
Walked over to the Radisson, with my wife, and had lunch. (The Lord Baltimore burger for those curious. Greasy fries. Not recommended.). Came back to the building and sat in the waiting room for the ceremony at 1:45pm. And waited and waited and waited. (Was getting worried since we had to drive back an hour to pick up our son from day care before it closed at 6!). Finally they had us get up at 3:40 and were taken to the Oath Ceremony room on the 7th floor – one elevator-full at a time! We are asked for our oath ceremony letter and the GC. Mercifully the ceremony itself was short – we were done in about 30 minutes. Collected the certificate and scooted out. Other folks were milling around getting their pictures taken with the immigration officer who presented the cert.
And finally it ends. No more dealings with the INS/USCIS. Started in 1994!
Note: We were told that we can sign the Naturalization Certificate any way we want. The photo on the certificate was the one taken when I went in for fingerprinting. That photo had my normal signature – so I just signed the certificate the same way.
Now onto getting the OCI... Groan