At the end of 2007, after getting an uneventful background check from the FBI, I had fulfilled all the requirements for becoming a permanent resident of Canada. Thus, my status was changed from a convention refugee to a permanent resident.
I could only apply for citizenship after two years had passed since becoming a resident and so I did in late 2009. I got a letter from Citizenship Canada informing me about the time for the citizenship test in late 2010.
After a quick search, I found a database of multiple choice questions which test your knowledge of Canadian history, politics and geography. A couple of hours before the test, I plowed through one hundred questions on this website and got all of them right. The actual test had twenty questions. I know for sure that I got eighteen correct. The other two I'm not so certain; they were worded in such a way that more than one answer could be technically correct.
Unfortunately, Citizenship Canada does not specify the exact mark on the test. They only inform one about passsing or failing. To pass, one has to correctly answer at least sixteen out of the twenty questions. A couple of weeks after writing the test, they informed me of the time for the citizenship ceremony.
I arrived at the government building half an hour before the main event. I stood outside in the cool morning chill. I remembered that in Saudi Arabia one has to avert the eyes away from shiny objects -- cars, windows, any reflective surfaces -- because of the intense, scorching sunlight. So, the only place one can look is down.
I looked up and breathed in the free air. My heart thanked all those strangers who donated money for my lawyer whose expertise was valuable in front of the Refugee Board four years ago. How kind is fate. Most of my former countrymen consider it their religious duty to slaughter me but here in the West, a small Army of Infidel Davids saved my life.
I noticed some peculiar clouds but they couldn't be as I saw a plane high in the ether. Then one more, then another. All flying in the westward direction, leaving those long puffy lines behind them.
Sixty people, at that place, were becoming Canadian citizens on the day. The judge talked a bit about Canadian history. She shared some personal information with us. Her Asian grandfather was moved and put in a camp during the Second World War. Now, two generations later, his granddaughter was welcoming new immigrants to Canada.
There was a strange moment when we had to pledge allegiance to the Queen in English ... and then in French. I guess that makes the new Canadians doubly loyal.
I applied for a Canadian passport today. The process was surprisingly quick. By the end of this month, international travel for me will be a bit more comfortable.