Saturday, April 14, 2012

Major Decisions

For over a year now, I have been eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. This has caused some soul-searching for me.To me, an application for citizenship has to be for the right reasons. I know people who want U.S. citizenship because it would help them apply for their family members or because they think they can get a better, government job or some other reason. In some cases, these people do not seem to have even assimilated into American society - and they do not want to. They want the benefits of citizenship without the burdens of it.

Certainly, I do not "need" to be an U.S. citizen. I am happy with my job and I have no family members that I want to sponsor. I certainly have no intention of running for office!! But I have been living here for the past 13 years (almost) and I do feel strongly attached. I have tried to assimilate - on a merely superficial level, anyone who sees my attachment to burgers, fries, apple pie and baseball can attest to that. I would love to be able to vote. Most importantly, I have one American daughter with another on the way.

Of course, there are aspects of myself which I cannot change. I still love Indian food - goat meat and all!! I do not understand the American obsession with high school drama/movies like The Breakfast Club(or is this just Gregg)? I think cheerleaders should be removed from all sports (Indian sports have adopted them too but there is more of a social outcry in India against this practice). But in most things, I have either adapted to or joyfully adopted this country's practices.

The second issue is: should we get a lawyer? For the green cards, we did - both times.And it cost us about $ 12000 overall (including the fees to the government).This was for a very easy straightforward application. (We really should fix the immigration system but that is another post).This time we have decided against it.The process itself costs $680 and we cannot afford more for a lawyer. I will do the paperwork myself.After all, I have never done anything illegal, I have a decent moral character (this is actually a requirement), I pay taxes and do not even have a traffic ticket. Gregg says this may be a stupid decision but I really do not want a lawyer this time. It is way too expensive with a second kid on the way.

This decision to apply for citizenship brings another question - should I change my last name? When we got married, I decided against it for a number of reasons - I was also starting a new job, I needed to apply for a green card and a name change would complicate the paperwork, the idea of changing my name on bank accounts, credit cards, passport, visa etc was daunting...
Then Asha was born and in the hospital, babies are given their mother's last name. So, her hospital bracelet and crib said "Baby Bagchi". For some reason, this seemed to annoy Gregg a lot which I could not understand.What's in a name after all? Then she came home and her official name of course is Lindskog. Now I know why it annoyed Gregg. Not having the same last name as your child is complicated. It seems to distance you from her when you are in public. I do not like it any more than Gregg did. So I have decided to take this chance to change my name.You have that option when you get citizenship and I will take it. It is certainly cheaper and less time consuming this way.

So, two big decisions rolled into one.The entire process takes about 6-12 months. I will update about it as I go through it.


Mihaela said...

Found your blot through a click thrum. I also had lawyers fir both green card steps but did citizenship app alone. Don't regret it. Easiest of all and test was straight forward. Paperwork straight forward skein. Good luck!

Mihaela said...

Please excuse typos... damn Kindle keyboard

Faith said...

I think you could do it alone - my friend just did it on her own and said it was time consuming but not difficult. Good luck!

Kathleen said...

Good luck with both decisions, Nitu - I had no idea the costs involved were so high!