USCIS Hosts Military Naturalization Ceremony in Tokyo

Event Culminates First Overseas Ceremonies

October 18, 2004

Twenty-three active-duty service members took the Oath of Allegiance and became the newest U.S. citizens during a special overseas military naturalization ceremony on October 18, 2004 at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. The ceremony in Tokyo culminates the first overseas military naturalization ceremonies conducted by the United States Federal Government.

Joining the service members to celebrate the swearing in were U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Deputy Director Michael Petrucelli and U.S. Ambassador Howard H. Baker, Jr. Earlier in the month, USCIS Director Eduardo Aguirre naturalized 34 service members in Iraq and 17 in Afghanistan.

"Today, we welcomed as new citizens men and women who had pledged to protect America's freedom," said Deputy Director Petrucelli. "Thousands of immigrant troops are making extraordinary sacrifices for America. There is no more fitting way for a grateful nation to demonstrate its appreciation than through granting qualified service members the privilege of U.S. citizenship as quickly as possible, to carry out their dream of becoming Americans."

Ambassador Howard H. Baker, Jr., welcomed the new citizens and told them, "I was born in the U.S. and became a citizen at birth. You, however, have chosen our flag and had to overcome many obstacles to become Americans. In doing so, you have reaffirmed our nation's values for us. You come from all parts of the world and give proof that ours is a welcoming diverse nation, which values the contributions of its newcomers and creates a larger family from them."

Last November, President Bush signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004. The Act amended portions of the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow for overseas military naturalization ceremonies. Before October 1, 2004, military service members could only naturalize while physically within the United States.