Political science professor receives citizenship after 20 years in US

Assistant professor of political science Cristian Cantir took his oath to the United States on Nov 25 after working for Oakland University since 2011. Cantir has lived in the U.S. for 20 years, first coming over when he was 15 years old. He stayed in the U.S. on student visas, including a green card from OU when he first got his job here.

The process of obtaining citizenship for Cantir started with that green card, which allowed him the benefits of being a U.S. citizen in many ways, but still prevented him from doing things like voting. To receive his full citizenship, he would have to work on the green card that OU gave him for five years.

“Typically, the only way to stay in the United States is through a job or through marriage, so when I got a job at Oakland, Oakland provided support for, and then subsequently, a green card,” Cantir said. “It’s basically a permanent residency card that allows you to be here.”

After the process of waiting comes a lot of paperwork, according to Cantir. There are a multitude of background checks and bureaucratic processes to go through before you can begin the testing process for citizenship. Once those are completed, the preparations for the oral, writing and civics tests can begin. Even as someone who had been in the United States for as long as he had, Cantir said he was still a little stressed about the tests.

“It’s stressful in the sense that there’s a lot riding on it, because you realize the stakes are high in the sense that you really want to stay in the U.S., right? And you want to become an American citizen. If something goes awry, it’s not like you would have to leave immediately, but it would become more difficult, and your existence would become a little more precarious in the U.S.,” Cantir said.

As far as the test itself, Cantir realized quickly that he was more than prepared for most of the questions. 

“I think I realized about halfway through the test that the content of it was fairly straightforward for a person like me who has been here for 20 years,” Cantir said.

When it came to the civic exam, Cantir said he felt strange about some of the questions. While the listening and writing came easy to him, some of the questions that related to the U.S. government came off as weird and more simple than they might appear.

“One of the questions that I got was, ‘Name one war that the United States fought in during the 20th century,’ I said World War I just because that was the one that popped into my brain, but as an academic, when you look at some of those questions about politics, some of them are very vague, and you have to give a specific answer,” Cantir explained. “There’s one question that says, ‘What does the president’s cabinet do?’ or something along those lines. If you’re a social scientist or an academic you start to get really subtle with it, but the answer I think was literally just ‘They advise the president.’”

Now that he has passed the test and taken his oath, Cantir is most excited to finally be able to vote.

“I also registered to vote, so I’m extremely excited about voting for every single election that I can,” Cantir said. “I’m putting together a list of everything that I need to vote for, like the school board, I don’t know if there’s a sheriff in my area but I fully intend on voting for a sheriff if I can.”