Four years ago, Navpreet Singh moved to Turlock from India in search of opportunity. Along with his new wife, he hoped that America would soon become home — and now it finally is.
Singh took the final step toward making his dream a reality when he and 70 other immigrants recited the nation’s Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony held in Salida on Friday morning, officially becoming U.S. citizens just before Veterans Day.
“It feels great to be an American citizen,” Singh said. “It’s the land of the free.”
Singh’s life became “great” when he came to America with his wife shortly after their wedding, he said. The Turlock resident is now self-employed and already owns his own trucking company in just four short years. The ability to make his own schedule allows him time for things he truly enjoys, he added, like hiking and spending time with his family.
“So far, my favorite thing about America is the advancement I’ve achieved in my own life and the opportunities I’ve received. I’m able to be self-employed and able to work independently. I couldn’t have done that back home,” Singh said.
Singh said he originally decided to leave India because of major differences between his home country and the United States, he said. Growing up, he didn’t have many of the same opportunities children have here in America and he wants his future children to have a chance to become whatever they want to be. Other differences include the integrity of America’s law enforcement compared to India’s, he added, and the country’s value for work ethic.
“The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that this country respects your hard work and respects your devotion,” Singh said. “This is definitely where I wanted to go because there are just more opportunities in every aspect of life.”
Singh said he earned permanent residency status upon moving to America, then went through the process to become a citizen three years later. He described the pathway to citizenship as “smooth,” and encouraged others who may be fearful of trying for citizenship to make the effort.
His dedication to the process paid off Friday alongside immigrants from countries like Portugal, Iraq, China and the Philippines, to name a few. A total of 12 countries were represented at the event, including 27 new citizens from Mexico.
Though Friday’s ceremony wasn’t as large as others held in cities like Fresno and Sacramento, which can see anywhere from 800 to 1,200 new citizens sworn in, the event served as another opportunity seized for Singh and as a sign of success to come.