BMT trainees become US citizens under new streamlined naturalization process

  • Published
  • By Vanessa Adame
  • 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

Fourteen trainees in basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland raised their right hands and are now the first to complete the new streamlined naturalization process making them U.S. citizens and allowing them to graduate as American Airmen. 

Over the course of their seven and a half weeks of training in BMT, the trainees accomplished the necessary paperwork and took their citizenship test and oath of allegiance. The first three accomplished their process as early as April 11, and the remaining trainees by April 25. All were formally recognized as U.S. citizens at the Airman’s Coin and Retreat Ceremony, April 26. 
Airman 1st Class Natalia Laziuk, 31, from Russia, was one of the first three Airmen to take the oath and become a citizen. Laziuk said she had been dreaming of becoming a citizen since she was 11 years old. 
“I will always be grateful for every opportunity I have here in the best country of the world,” she added. 
These trainees’ citizenship ceremonies were much like any other – with only one difference: the person administering the oath was on a computer monitor, miles away. 
The online process is part of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Naturalization at Basic Training Initiative that allows trainees the opportunity to become citizens before they graduate. It’s just one of several initiatives the Air Force is taking to remove barriers to service amid the current challenging recruiting environment. 
“Their desire to become citizens exemplifies their commitment and dedication to the United States,” said Col. John P. O’Dell, 37th Training Wing vice commander. “When we began the partnership with USCIS, we asked all trainees who would be interested in starting their application, and 111 raised their hands. These trainees volunteered to serve a country they aren’t yet citizens of, and now we get to formally recognize them upon their graduation as American Airmen.” 
The 37th TW partnered with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in March to reimplement the program after policy changes in 2017 changed processing timelines that affected a trainee’s ability to naturalize prior to graduation. 
William Fischer, 737 TRG training director, emphasized the naturalization process begins with recruiters – long before trainees step foot in basic training. 
“Recruiters can prepare the trainees before they arrive here so that trainees can bring all their necessary documents with them to BMT,” Fischer said. “This is important to help ensure participants can earn their citizenship before they graduate.” 
Nearly the entire program is accessible online, making it more convenient for trainees to complete the application. Upon arrival at BMT, recruits can scan a QR code, immediately create their USICS account, and start their application. They also have a study guide at their fingertips – a 100-question sample test – loaded onto their tablets to help them prepare for the final test, which they must complete, along with a virtual interview, before they can earn their U.S. citizenship. 
The online program also serves as an advantage to those who don’t complete the naturalization process at BMT, as they can continue at their follow-on technical training or first operational assignment. 
Airman Miguel Angelo Flores decided to join the Air Force to do something positive with his life. Flores found the Air Force to be a perfect fit for him. 
“I am dedicating myself to my country,” said Flores, 22, from the Philippines. 
The 14 Airmen and their country of origin are:  

Eva Nurten Akman, Turkey 
Jonathan Andobolo Orozco, Mexico 
D’Elbrah Assamoi, Côte d'Ivoire 
Jordan Flash, Jamaica 
Miguel Angelo Flores, Philippines 
Lionel Fogang, Cameroon 
Joshua Fancisco, Philippines 
Ivine Kiburi, Kenya 
Natalia Laziuk, Russia 
Ross Mudie, South Africa 
Christian Munoz-Medina, El Salvador 
Xitlaine Roache, Jamaica 
Roel Watson, Jamaica 
Teon Whyte, Jamaica 
To learn more about the naturalization process at BMT, visit here.