Forty-seven military veterans gained US citizenship in a naturalization ceremony at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton in Washington, according to the Seattle Times.
The men and women were born in 19 different countries, and all became citizens through a law that expedites the process for military members during a time of armed conflict, reported the newspaper. Since September 2001, nearly 70,000 people have have become American citizens through the law, according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
Francisco Resendiz, who was born in Mexico, told the newspaper he enlisted in the US Army and recently returned from a year of service in Afghanistan. Resendiz worked as an engineer, clearing ground and building roads for new army bases.
Resendiz said one of the first things he plans on doing as a US citizen is applying for a passport so he can travel.
“I want to see it all,” he said. “It’s a great world and I want to see it all.”
Military members must serve five years of honorable service before they qualify for citizenship, reports the USCIS. However, armed forces veterans are exempt from the usual naturalization requirements that say an applicant must have a residence and physical presence in the US.