|Saint Paul MN|| Review on February 22, 2018:|
|Review Topic: Naturalization|
This review is actually for the new USCIS facility on Marquette Ave at Minneapolis, MN.
My interview was on 2/20 at 9:45am. I had my husband drop me off because parking is hard to find, unless you are lucky enough to find street parking.
There was a decent line going through security but it moved pretty quickly. You had to show security your appointment letter. Without one, you cannot enter the office. People were allowed to bring family members to wait with them in the lobby, but not to the interviews or to the counter for INFOPASS appointments. There were 5 counters on the right hand side of the lobby.
After security, I checked in at the counter and was given a letter/number. I assume that the different letters denote the purpose of your visit. My number was called right at 9:45am and I was led through a locked door to left of the counters, back to the individual offices for the IOs. My IO was J Suarez. He was very warm and friendly. Even before I sat down in his office, he said "when" I'm done with the interview, that we would do the oath today and that I would become a citizen today.
We went through the English test portion very quickly. Then we moved onto the Civics portion - I got the first 6 answers correct. He congratulated me and said he would print out my Oath Ceremony letter right now. He told me that this field office did oaths in-house now, and that they try to do a few of them every day in order to keep things moving. He said that there would be one in about an hour and asked me to wait in the lobby till then.
All in all, the whole interview took 15 minutes.
After waiting in the lobby for half an hour, however, another IO came out to speak to me. She explained that only North Dakota residents were allowed to do these "administrative oaths", and that as a Minnesota resident, I had to do the oath in front of an actual judge (judicial ceremony). I was a little confused as to why this wasn't caught earlier, because I had to confirm my address with the first IO. But it seemed like these in-house oaths were a new development. They felt really bad about the inconvenience and said they called a District Judge to set up a ceremony today for the few of us MN residents interviewing today. She apologized several times and asked me to wait while they generated a new letter.
About 10-15 minutes later, another IO showed up with my letter. He apologized again and said that it looked like no one else could make this ceremony later today, so I would do it by myself with the Judge in his chambers.
Later on, while talking to Judge, he explained that the ND courts have given the Minneapolis field office the authority to conduct these administrative oaths to relieve the burden on the courts. He explained that the Minnesota courts have not done the same, and that he felt that it was a privilege to swear new citizens in and that new citizens deserve the time and respect of the courts.
In short, it was an easy interview experience, minus the oath ceremony hiccup. Even then, it wasn't a big deal to me and it was only a minor inconvenience. They were apologetic and worked to fix the problem right away, which I really appreciated. MN nice!