On June 27, I was excited to go to the citizenship-oath ceremony for which I was scheduled at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building in North Miami. Upon approaching the ceremony hall, an officer examined my paperwork, in which I had declared that I had been out of the country three times since my citizenship interview on April 2, 2012. I was pulled out of the ceremony and asked to leave without any opportunity for discussion or even an explanation of what was to happen afterward with my application.
In that 86-day period since my interview I had been outside the country a total of 20 days. But the officer considered that these 20 days had to be added to the 880 days out of country in five years, which I declared in my application, which was sent on December 19, 2011.
I am a consulting engineer in energy and water resources, and my work is mostly overseas, including considerable work for the U.S. government. My citizenship application lists 157 overseas trips since becoming a permanent resident, none of which lasted more than 80 days, and in no 12-month period have I been overseas more than half of the time. This was considered acceptable at the time of my interview but, for some reason, a 23-percent absence rate since the interview was not acceptable.
I can understand that USCIS need to be thorough in the evaluation process and I would have readily accepted any decision at the time of my interview. However, a citizenship-oath ceremony is a momentous occasion, and being pulled out of the line and denied access with some vague reference to too much time abroad, then being asked to leave without any formal process was humiliating.
I make my living honestly and I do not lie about it. If that is wrong for a citizen of the United States, then I am mistaken about this great country.
Carlos Yermoli, Miami