GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – As part of a special naturalization program for active duty service members and their families, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria hosted a virtual naturalization ceremony at Tower Barracks Conference Center on April 13. A total of 41 candidates from 20 countries were administered the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States.
The citizens naturalized during the ceremony are from Argentina, Brazil, Burma, Cameroon, Colombia, El Salvador, Germany, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, Italy, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Panama, Philippines, South Korea, Togo, Venezuela and Vietnam.
After the national anthem, the oath of allegiance was virtually delivered by a representative of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“Thank you all for your service and commitment to the United States,” said Eloris James, USCIS immigration officer. “Without being a citizen, you have already shown remarkable patriotism and devotion to this country through your service and the support of your spouses. Your spirit and dedication are what make us a successful nation.
Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, USAG Bavaria and USCIS are working in tandem to successfully host the hybrid ceremony. Since the start of the program in July 2021, five virtual ceremonies have been held at USAG Bavaria, totaling 159 naturalizations to date.
According to Military Personnel Division Chief Michele Crawford, the process of screening candidates for naturalization becomes easier and more efficient with each virtual program cycle. In addition, this provision allows for a greater number of candidates for naturalization at each ceremony.
“It actually helps the soldiers who are deployed here, because now we are able to help them through this process,” Crawford said. “Instead of deployed soldiers having to wait until they return to the United States – if they have already started the process and are only waiting for interviews – we can have their cases transferred to interviews here and put them in the ceremonies. . ”
In the long term, she predicts that this hybrid method is here to stay.
“We’ll see, but I think this hybrid method could continue even if we come out of COVID-19 restrictions,” Crawford said. “It seems to be the most cost-effective way for everyone involved as applicants reach that final stage of their citizenship journey.”
These newly naturalized community members traveled to the ceremony from several U.S. Army garrisons across Germany, including the areas of Grafenwoehr, Vilseck, Hohenfels, Ansbach, Sembach and Kaiserslautern. Moreover, one candidate even came from Poland – where he is currently deployed.
“Today you are part of something big – America,” said US Army Bavaria Garrison Commander Col. Christopher Danbeck, who served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. “And America is growing bigger and more complete, thanks to all of you. Congratulations and thank you!”
Watch a video recording of the ceremony here: https://www.facebook.com/USAGBavaria/videos/1204485446987966
See additional photos from the event, here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzKC6h