This month James finally became a US citizen, after a nearly three-year delay. We’d both applied in late 2005 and were interviewed in early 2006. I was approved in a couple of months and became a citizen in the summer of 2006. James, however, went into application limbo pending an FBI name check, but eventually was approved as part of a class-action lawsuit.
Our overriding interest in citizenship was the ability to vote, but citizenship actually is required for a number of things in the nautical world. Some boat loans and insurance policies require that a vessel be documented, and some countries allow entry by boat only on documented vessels. Non-citizens, however, cannot document a vessel, nor pilot a documented vessel out of the country. Only citizens are eligible for USCG licenses other than the OUPV (or “6-pack”). And twice we’ve missed opportunities to tour a US navy nuclear submarine because we weren’t citizens.