There's no age limit on citizenship but most immigrants who get sworn in were born in the last century. That's not true for Joaquin Arciago Guzman who became a United States citizen Wednesday at the age of 102.
The Philippines-born took the Oath of Allegiance in downtown Los Angeles and became part of a small group of immigrants who become citizens as centenarians. Only 27 people over the age of 100 have become citizens in the last 50 years, reports The Washington Post.
It took Guzman years to apply for citizenship although he has been eligible for years.
Guzman first came to the country in 1928 but returned to the Philippines after a decade. He married and then returned to the US to support his family through farming. His wife and two of their adult children joined him in 1984.
Guzman's wife and his immigrant children became citizens several years ago but Guzman never applied.
When Guzman went to renew his Green Card recently, a paralegal helped him see that citizenship would be a less expensive route. He then worried about passing the test, anxiously studying US history in preparation according to a statement by his niece Julie Guzman to ABC.
Once an immigrant has a Green Card, it takes five years of continuous residence (three if your spouse is a citizen) to be eligible to apply for citizenship. Applicants undergo a background check, interviews, and tests to determine English proficiency and knowledge of US history.
It's possible to complete the process alone, but working with an immigration attorney can simplify the process.
In Guzman's case, he was able to get a waiver from his doctor stating that he was unable to memorize the information required for the history test. That may have been the difference between an approved or rejected application.
Joaquin Guzman arrived in the United States as an immigrant in 1928 to pick lettuce and cabbage in the fields of California. Eighty-four years later he took an oath to uphold the Constitution and gained his citizenship.
- The FindLaw Guide to Applying for Your Green Card (FindLaw)
- At 102, North Hollywood man is Happy to be an American (Daily News Los Angeles)
- Becoming a U.S. Citizen (FindLaw)
- Obama's New Rules for Young Illegal Immigrants (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)