To a large degree, America was built on immigration and it continues to be an integral component in our society. There are clear processes for naturalization and how a foreign citizen may obtain citizenship in the United States. Typically, an immigrant can obtain citizenship within one year from applying after being here three years if married to a U.S. citizen or after five years of being here with a green card.

Sometimes, however, glitches occur and the time it can take for someone to receive his or her long-awaited U.S. citizenship can be much longer. Such is the case for a Los Angeles resident originally from Egypt who waited 11 years after his first application before being sworn in as a full-fledged U.S. citizen—and this was after he had lived in the United States for 24 years, married an American woman and had children here.

Despite living in the United States for more than two decades, the man had not sought citizenship until after September 11, 2001 when he felt an emotional tug common to Americans, making him want to formalize his status in this country. Over the course of 11 years, he had to reinitiate his naturalization application with new photos and fingerprints as the office handling his case frequently told him they could not find his file. A denial in 2008 further derailed his hopes but he persevered and is now complete with his application process and happy to say he is an American.

If you or a loved one is attempting to attain citizenship and in need of help to navigate the complex federal systems, it can be helpful to talk to an immigration attorney. You may be able to get valuable guidance to prevent an unnecessarily long process.

Source: New America Media, “Federal Program Turns One Man’s Path to Citizenship Into 11 Year Trek,” Monica Campbell, October 19, 2013