Team Vance airman becomes American citizen

  • Published
  • By SrA Amanda Mills
  • Public Affairs
Seventeen months of paperwork, fingerprints, interviews and waiting finally culminated into one momentous ceremony for an 8th Flying Training Squadron workgroup manager.
SrA Mario Coronado, formerly a Guatemalan citizen, became an American citizen during a ceremony March 11 at Oklahoma State University.
"It feels great," Airman Coronado said. "There are so many things that are open to me now."
Although Airman Coronado has lived in the United States since he was 5, he remembers the differences in the countries and some of the hardships faced in Guatemala.
"Just looking at the way we live is a big difference - in Guatemala you had to be middle upper class to have a house that is standard here," he said. American citizens are also able to vote, he added.
There are some military benefits to becoming a citizen as well. Once military members become Americans, they are authorized a security clearance, they can become an officer if they desire and they are allowed to go to any assignment location, just to name a few opportunities.
Airman Coronado is the third of seven family members to become an American. After watching his sister and father go through an 18-month wait, he knew going through the military would be the easiest route.
The citizenship process begins with the N400 form, which includes a $325 submission fee, Airman Coronado said. People can pick up the form in any military personnel flight and return it there for a clearance review. Team Vance people going through the process then go to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service) in Oklahoma City to be fingerprinted, wait one to two months, then return for an interview. After another brief wait of less than four months, the person becomes an American.
The process through the military can feasibly take less than eight months, Airman Coronado said. However, he ran into some paperwork location issues that lengthened his time.
"For those going through the process, don't just sit and wait for it to happen," he said. "Stay with the people, and if it takes longer than four months after your interview to get word from them, call them up."
PO1 Andrew Cosma, 8th FTS, believes Airman Coronado proved his patriotism by joining the Air Force.
"Becoming a citizen of our great country proved that he not only is proud of what he has become in the military, but also is proud to be known as an American," Petty Officer Cosma said.
May marks Airman Coronado's fourth year at Vance Air Force Base. He plans on re-enlisting, and says he will probably make the military a career and retire. There are currently four people at Vance AFB pursuing their American citizenship.