BAKERSFIELD -- CALIF. — Seventy-eight Kern County residents became citizens of the United States Friday morning.
The naturalization ceremony was the first one in Bakersfield this year, held at the Beale Memorial Library off Truxtun Avenue.
"I'm... so happy that I'm now a U.S. citizen," Monica Chhabra said.
Chhabra said she's originally from India and has waited for this day for two decades.
"I moved to the United States in 1999," Chhabra said. "It was a long journey. After 20 years, I'm holding this citizenship in my hands, with ups and downs and high and lows."
The path to citizenship starts by applying for a green card, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman Sharon Rummery said.
A green card holder has to wait a minimum of five years before applying for citizenship, which typically takes about six months to approve, Rummer said.
If a green card holder marries a U.S. citizen, they have to wait three years before applying for citizenship.
Naturalization ceremonies in the greater Kern County areas are typically held in Fresno once a month, but occasionally are hosted in Kern County.