Thirty people originating from sixteen different countries gained US citizenship in a Montana naturalization ceremony, according to The Missoulian.
The ceremony, held at the Russell Smith Courthouse in Missoula, was presided over by US Magistrate Jeremiah C. Lynch. While addressing the crowd, Lynch reportedly spoke of how one in nine Americans is foreign born, and encouraged the new citizens to appreciate their new status.
“Today, every right, every opportunity and every hope is given to you,” he said. “Hold your liberties precious.”
In addition, the new citizens heard an address to them written in a letter by U.S. Senator Max Baucus, where he encouraged them to take advantage of their citizenship and take an active role in society.
Natalia Hagar, who came to the US five years ago from her native Belarus, told the newspaper she has already become involved in her Great Falls community. Hagar said she serves on an advisory committee for international relations and also hosts groups from Open World, an organization focused on strengthening the relationship between the US and Eurasia.
Foreign nationals who are interested in become naturalized US citizens must be a permanent resident for at least five years and meet other eligibility requirements. Those who are married to a US citizen can apply for naturalization after three years as a permanent resident.