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Last night, I posted about the USCIS presenting a 93-year-old woman with a Certificate of Citizenship and some of the questions I had regarding the circumstances. Original post here. Upon further reflection (Yeah, I should probably think things through more completely before writing about them….) I see that the action was ceremonial – that she was simply being issued the Certificate, not actual Citizenship.

But I still have a couple of questions: 1. Why wasn’t her father’s naturalization enough to prove her status and 2. Does it really cost $600 to apply for a Certificate if you are already a citizen?


A 93-year old woman in the Lehigh Valley was recently issued a Certificate of Citizenship, 90 years after she became a legal citizen.

According to the story in The Express-Times, the woman recently applied for a photo ID in order to go on a bus trip to Atlantic City.  She was issued the ID card, but her lack of documentation prompted an investigation by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.  The woman was born in Italy and immigrated to the US as a baby. Her father was granted citizenship in 1926, and as per the laws at that time, his wife and minor children also became citizens by virtue of his application. The father was issued a Certificate of Citizenship; the others were not.

The lack of this certificate apparently became in issue during the recent investigation. She had to hire an immigration lawyer who helped her prove her status. After determining that she is in fact a citizen, the USCIS issued a certificate during a ceremony held at her retirement community, during which she took an Oath of Allegiance.

This is a nice story, but leaves me with many questions (Must be the former reporter in me.)

The article does not say where she applied for the ID card; probably the County Clerk’s office, as I doubt she went to DMV for a drivers license. If she had enough proof to be issued the identification card, why was there a question of her citizenship status? Did whatever agency she applied at refer the matter to the USCIS? Do the feds really have anything more important to do than give a 93-year-old woman a hard time when she just wants to go to Ceaser’s?

As per the article, the USCIS waived the $600 application fee, although it is not clear what it was she was applying for. She is already a citizen. Wouldn’t she just need a copy of her father’s naturalization papers, which should be available at the NARA, to prove it?

Why was she given a Oath of Allegiance – just for show? The USCIS was quoted as saying: “It’s kind of awesome seeing someone that age taking that step.” As she was already a citizen, what step was she taking?

I emailed the author of the story with these questions. I’ll let you know what he says.