Last week, Alfonso Espinosa, Teller and Loan Officer at our Milwood Office took the Oath of Allegiance, officially becoming a naturalized United States citizen. He joins many millions of people in our nation’s history who have come to the United States, a nation of immigrants, to build their lives and contribute to our society.
For many, the path to citizenship is a lengthy one. Alfonso’s journey began in the Dominican Republic when he was young. In order to travel to the U.S. (his grandfather was an engineer in New York), he got his Green Card.
After finishing high school in the Dominican, Alfonso decided to continue his education in the United States. He attended Kalamazoo College, graduating in 2010 with a degree in Economics and Business.
Shortly thereafter, he joined Consumers. Alfonso enjoys educating members on how the products we offer can help them achieve their financial goals, especially when it comes to building credit and assisting our Spanish-preferring members. Every other Tuesday, he spends the afternoon at the Hispanic American Council where he is available to answer financial questions and provide account information.
With his Green Card approaching its expiration date, Alfonso decided the time was right to apply for citizenship. As a permanent resident, he had built his life in the United States. His job was here, his house was here, and he had a baby on the way!
The actual application process lasted eight months, a length of time that Alfonso says, “felt long, but was relatively short compared to the amount of time it takes others to go through the process.” The process includes an extensive background check, interviews with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and tests of English reading, writing, and speaking skills, as well as U.S. history and government knowledge.
“If you have a good understanding of English, the tests aren’t that difficult,” says Alfonso. “The judge who presided over my naturalization ceremony spoke for some time about how important it is to communicate in English in order to make your voice heard in America. It’s definitely an advantage for immigrants and others who are able to speak multiple languages.”
Alfonso took the Oath of Allegiance at the Gerald R. Ford Museum with over 50 people from 43 different countries at last week’s Naturalization Ceremony. The ceremony also included the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, and an address on the importance of immigration throughout American history delivered by the judge who presided over the event.
When asked what he’s most looking forward to about his new American citizenship, Alfonso says, “Voting. I haven’t been able to vote before, and I think it’s very important in a democracy that everyone have the chance to share their views.”