You are hereCU student tries for citizenship
CU student tries for citizenship
The process for an immigrant to become an American citizen is time-consuming and expensive. One CU student is experiencing firsthand how the process works and what it means to become an American.
Lyubov Panchenko, or Lyuba as she is called, came to America when she was just eight years old, making America the place she calls home. Her parents made the decision to join the rest of her family as their financial condition and the economic status of Russia continued to worsen. Their family of six lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Novosibirsk, Russia, struggling to survive.
The Panchenko family already had relatives in America willing to sponsor them, so as soon as they were given permission by the American government, they slowly made their way from Russia and into America. The four day journey to Colorado was indicative of how their new life would start. They came to America with no money, no jobs and no knowledge of the English language.
However, things began to look up for Lyuba and her family. She and her siblings attended public schools and her parents both found work.
"In my mindset, things seemed to switch from, like, bad to good," said Lyuba of their new situation.
Lyuba became the first member of her family to attend college in 2007 when she enrolled at the University of Colorado. But, her green card expires in February. Without renewing her green card or becoming a citizen, she will not be able to attend school or to stay in the U.S.
For her, the choice was simple. It only made sense to become an American citizen and enjoy the benefits that that would entail. The six month process, however, would not be simple. She started by filling out nearly twelve pages of questions, followed by a fingerprinting and a background check. Once these are cleared she will need to take a U.S. history test, as well as an oral exam and a written exam to prove her knowledge of the English language.
The real challenge, however, is the cost. The cost of applying for citizenship is $685. Though this may be manageable for one person, her family has grown to eight. This amount of money is difficult for them to come by, but it is important to the Panchenko’s to follow the process and remain in the country legally.
“We did live in a poor, poor environment and still it wasn’t impossible for me to come here. It was possible to do it right,” said Lyuba.
The estimated number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. ranges from 12 to 20 million, and the Panchenko family doesn’t want to become part of that statistic. They want to be here legally and take part in all that American citizenship has to offer. Lyuba won’t find out for a couple more months if her application has been accepted or not. Until then, she waits and hopes that her dream of becoming an American citizen can come true.
“If I become an American citizen, I’m here to stay,” said Lyuba.
For the full interview, go to: http://newsteamboulder.org/news/full-interview-lyuba-panchenko