They have been in the United States awhile, but Monday marked an important new day for 100 people gathered at the Round Lake Beach Cultural & Civic Center.
Representing 33 countries, the candidates, as they are known, realized their dreams of becoming naturalized U.S. citizens.
"It was a very emotional ceremony," said Elena Lara, head of outreach services for the Round Lake Area Public Library. "A lot of them have been waiting and preparing for a long time."
The event was arranged by the library in partnership with Mano a Mano Family Resource Center, which offers citizen support services.
In the Mano a Mano Citizenship Program, volunteers teach eligible permanent residents the civic requirements of the citizen test as well as speaking and writing skills. Those applying to become naturalized citizens must pass tests and are required to answer questions about their application and background, according to Lara.
"It's like being in junior high studying the Constitution," she said. "They're asked 100 questions." They also take an English and Civics test.
Once a foreign citizen or national is granted permanent resident status, they have to wait five years to take the naturalization test. Citizenship is granted after the applicant fulfills requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Some wait longer than others.
"Everybody's situation is personal and unique," Lara said.
Speakers on Monday focused on the privileges, responsibilities and importance of U.S. citizenship, as well as the significance of swearing allegiance to the U.S.
Voter registration was offered immediately after the ceremony, Lara added.