I arrived at the Garden City DO at approximately 10:15 this morning. My interview was scheduled for 11:25, so I decided to try my luck and see if the security guards would allow me to get in early. They politely told me to come back at 11:00, so I dropped my fiancee off at Bloomingdale's at the Roosevelt Field Mall and drove back to the parking lot at 711 Stewart Avenue. I should mention that there is plenty of free parking available, so don't worry about where you can leave your vehicle.
I arrived at the Garden City DO at approximately 10:15 this morning. My interview was scheduled for 11:25, so I decided to try my luck and see if the security guards would allow me to get in early. They politely told me to come back at 11:00, so I dropped my fiancee off at Bloomingdale's at the Roosevelt Field Mall and drove back to the parking lot at 711 Stewart Avenue. I should mention that there is plenty of free parking available, so don't worry about where you can leave your vehicle. Also, there are several different offices at 711 Stewart Avenue, so make sure you go to 711 East.
Anyway, I killed the next 20 minutes or so reading a book in my car, then went into the building. After clearing security (not only are you allowed to bring cell phones into the building, you are also allowed to use them) and getting my IL stamped, I was directed to go to the 2nd floor. The seating area on the 2nd floor was SLAMMED. There must have been at least 100-120 people waiting. I found an available seat and sat down to wait. About 40 minutes later, my name was called. My IO was a gentleman in his 50s. He walked me to his office and did the whole "raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God" thing. Obviously, this was a senior officer, since just about every inch of his office was covered with certificates of commendation from the INS and USCIS. He was very chatty and friendly, so I immediately felt at ease. He confirmed that I am changing my last name and had me sign 2 forms indicating that I am requesting a name change. He explained that one of the forms will be returned to me, along with my natz certificate, at the oath ceremony and will have a court seal. It will be my name change certificate.
After confirming my name change, the IO began going through my N-400 question by question. When we got to my address, he asked me if I was a Brooklyn Cyclones (a NY Mets "farm" team) fan. I told him that I'm not much of a sports fan, but I played at the Cyclones Stadium with my rock band. The IO pointed out a painting on a wall, featuring a band playing a concert. He told me that it's his classic rock band, in which he plays drums. Right then and there, I knew that things would definitely go in my favor. We got a bit sidetracked and had a little chat about music. When we got back to my N-400, he finished asking the questions and had me sign the application with my current name in section 13 and my new name in section 14. He also asked me to print my new name on the photographs. I was not asked to show any documents at all, besides my GC and travel document - not even my driver license. I should also mention that he asked "Have you ever been arrested?", and mentioned nothing about being detained or cited. With the application out of the way, it was now time for the test. I was asked 10 questions, approximately in the following order:
1. How many stripes are on the U.S. flag?
2. What comprises Congress?
3. Who is the current governor of NY?
4. Name 3 of the 13 original states.
5. What is the introduction to the Constitution called?
6. What is the purpose of Supreme Court?
7. For how many years is a Senator elected?
8. Who is the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Army?
9. How many states are in the Union?
10. What color are the stripes on the U.S. flag?
I got all 10 correct.
He then had me write 3 sentences:
1. Today is a beautiful day.
2. I drive a blue car.
3. I will be a good citizen.
The last part of the test was reading a 3-line paragraph (something about immigrants contributing to the development of the U.S.). I don't remember exactly what it was.
At this point, the IO stamped a big red "APPROVED" stamp on my N-400. He handed me the N-652, with "Congratulations! Your application has been recommended for approval." checked off. Here comes the good part...
The IO asked if I had any questions. I said yes, and explained to him the situation with my upcoming wedding. I asked if there is any possibility of me being able to get an oath prior to my wedding, as it would mean a lot to me to marry as an American citizen. He told me that it would most likely be impossible, since they are already scheduling oaths into the 2nd half of September. However, the IO said that he would go to the scheduling department and see what he could do. He asked me to wait in his office and left. He came back in about 15 minutes and told me that he got an approval for an expedited oath for me, but the person in charge of issuing oath letters is in a meeting. He gave me another N-652, with "MUST SEE ME" written on it and told me to come back in an hour and show the N-652 to the security guard downstairs. I went down the block and killed some time at a Starbucks. Exactly an hour later, I went back and showed the N-652 to the guard. He took the notice and asked me to take a seat. Not even 5 minutes later, my IO came out and gave me an OL for September 9 (8:30 A.M.). I nearly had a heart attack. I couldn't believe that the USCIS actually acted on an applicant's request. I guess bonding between musicians helps too!
In all honesty, God bless this man. It goes to show you that there are some decent human beings working for the USCIS. If only everyone there was like that!
With my journey's end only a couple of weeks away, I'd like to thank everyone (too many of you to name) on this forum for being a part of a great support system in what's been a somewhat difficult time for all of us. An honorable mention goes to Rajiv Khanna for hosting this forum, in effect providing us with plethora of information and an outlet for our frustrations. To all those who are still waiting, hang in there. Your time will come before you know it!