One woman’s 64-year journey to citizenship

Becoming a U.S. citizen is tricky business, no matter how you go about it. For one woman, taking her oath took 64 years, the Washington Post reported. Zofia Dubicka came to the U.S. from Germany with her family in 1949. In 1961, her father became a citizen. The day of his ceremony, with a beaming face, he assured his daughter than she now had the ability to achieve whatever she set out to do, as she was also an American citizen.

Years later, Dubicka approached the social security office to claim her retirement funds. She was stunned when the clerk told her she was actually not a citizen. Dubicka began to cry, wondering whether it was true.

The trouble was that Dubicka’s mother never applied for citizenship. If she had naturalized before her daughter turned 18, both of Dubicka’s parents would have been citizens, passing citizenship onto her. According to Reuters, there are approximately 16 million families in the U.S. today with a mixed immigration status. Though Dubicka’s case began many years ago, her situation is common.

And since she was never aware of her predicament, she never applied for citizenship. Dubicka feared she would loose her social security benefits and so was determined to apply for American citizenship. Going through her family’s records, she found the permanent residency card her parents applied for when she was a child. Though she had no birth certificate, she found her baptismal record brought over from Germany. Dubicka also had a driver’s license and social security card, both of which are available to non-citizens. With all the records in hand, she applied.

Dubicka had a certified nursing assistant diploma and records of all taxes she had paid over the years. She felt she had a strong case supporting her desire and action toward assimilating into American society. The immigration office thought so too, because on Tuesday, Sept.10, Dubicka swore allegiance to the U.S. She is now a proud citizen of the country she has called home for most of her life.