After living in the United States since she was 8 years old, Ruiqi Li ’13, an economics and math major and an English minor, is close to becoming a U.S. citizen. The final step for Li is to take the Oath of Allegiance, which she plans to do with other new citizens during fall break in October.
Earlier this month, Li passed the naturalization test in Hartford, Conn., which is close to the town of Madison, where she went to middle and high school. Her family left Lanzhou, China, when Li was under a year old so her father could begin a graduate program at McGill University in Montreal.
When Li was 9, her family left Canada for Connecticut. She has Canadian citizenship and had been a permanent resident of the United States. But becoming a citizen was a sensible move for Li.
“Most people I know are in the States,” Li said. “It’s a nice stronghold of connections for me, and it’s nice to be legally tied to a country.”
Li says being a U.S. citizen makes many activities easier, such as applying for jobs or scholarships. As a senior, she’s beginning the job-hunting process now, and is looking for actuarial positions in the States.
Traveling is also less of a hassle as a U.S. citizen – or more specifically, being a U.S. citizen makes it easier to get through airport lines after returning from abroad, Li said.
Finally, being able to vote was a big draw for Li. “That’s a plus,” she said.
The path to becoming a U.S. citizen is a long one. Li was only eligible for citizenship because she had been a permanent resident, a status that prospective citizens have to hold for at least five years. The naturalization application costs almost $700, and the multi-step process takes months, from being fingerprinted for background checks to taking an English proficiency and history and civics test.