News: US Army Specialist becomes citizen while deployed
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction team members welcomed their newest American citizen May 5 with a party dubbed “Cinco de Santos” at Big Daddy’s, a unit morale building in the PRT compound on Forward Operating Base Ghazni.
U.S. Army Spc. Rafael Santos from 1st Platoon, Company D, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment of the Massachusetts National Guard returned recently from Kandahar where he took his citizenship exam. He then took part in an oath of citizenship ceremony April 22 along with approximately 75 other new citizens.
A native of Brazil, Santos moved to the U.S. ten years ago with his parents. Many of his relatives already live in the U.S. including one cousin, U.S. Army Spc. Marcelo Gomes, serving on this deployment with him. Both men are now from Marlboro, Mass.
Normally, a naturalization applicant must be a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. for five years immediately preceding their application, but for members of the U.S. military, that time is reduced to one year.
For service members serving during a time of declared hostilities, there is no such requirement. They must have served honorably in active-duty status for any period of time. Should they be discharged under other than honorable conditions, however, their citizenship may be revoked.
Spc. Santos received his citizenship within three months of applying due to the Expedited Naturalization Executive Order of 2002. Another advantage for military members is the waived application fee.
Members of the military are still required to take an exam demonstrating knowledge of U.S. government and history and undergo an interview with an Immigration and Naturalization Service agent. Prior to these events, a background check and fingerprinting are also done.
Santos admitted, “I was a little nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, but the people in Kandahar were really nice. I went there a little early to study the questions. The test was pretty easy; I knew most of it already from college.” I’m happy,” he added, “and now I’m out here serving my country.”
Santos, who is studying Business Administration and Accounting, was three years into his college career when he was called upon by his Army National Guard unit to serve on this deployment.
Date Posted:05.15.2011 16:45
Location:GHAZNI PROVINCE, AF
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