‘Just a matter of being sworn in’
After living in the United States for 44 years, Arthur “Bill” Krochak can call himself an American Citizen.
He was originally from Manitoba, Canada. He met his wife, Sovilla, when she was living in Oregon. They fell in love and married in the United States. Afterward, they moved to Vancouver for a year, but Sovilla’s mom’s health took a turn for the worse and they ended up moving to Indiana so Sovilla could take care of her mother.
“We came in ’70 [to the United States] and in ’74 we moved down here,” Sovilla said. “He worked at Crane until 2001, when he injured his back and had to retire.”
Arthur has had permanent residence status since he came across the border with his wife. He always wanted to become a U.S. citizen, but life got in the way.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I guess I just never got the time. I was working long hours and the kids were in school.”
“We talked about getting his citizenship in the ‘90s and just didn’t get it accomplished,” Sovilla said. “Finally, we decided we needed to do something and he wanted to vote and couldn’t, not being a citizen.”
Arthur sent his application in June, but then the government shutdown happened. He waited and waited to hear from someone about his application. Finally, in November he was told he had passed the background check and to head to Des Moines for an interview.
Once Arthur was in Des Moines he took a test on American history, done by a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services officer. He found his experience to be interesting.
“He asked me questions I knew the answer to but he didn’t know the answer to,” Arthur said. “He had to look them up on a computer. He asked me what the two possessions of the United States were; well, one is Guam and the other is the Virgin Islands, so I knew that. It’s a good thing I knew my history.”
Other questions the officer asked Arthur were about where he was born, where he currently lived, and his age.
“He had to see if I speak good enough English to accomplish what he wanted,” Arthur said. “Once the test was over I knew it was just a matter of being sworn in.”
On Jan. 10, he traveled to Des Moines to be sworn in as an American citizen.
“It was interesting,” Arthur said. “You had people from all over the world — Vietnam, from the Ukraine, from Bosnia, Iraq, and from South America. We were fighting some of these people and they wanted to become American Citizens; that was interesting to me.”
His proudest moment throughout the ceremony was his family greeting him after the ceremony.
“That’s what made dad proud—all three kids were there,” Arthur said. “Nicole was there from Dallas/Fort Worth area, Phil is from Brighton, and Shelly’s in Marion.”
Nicole Jasa, Arthur’s daughter, said she first heard about it from her brother Phil. For Father’s Day all of the children decided to be in Washington to give their father money for the application.
“I loved the idea and was immediately on board,” Jasa said. “I wasn’t able to be there in person when he received the gift, but I was there by phone. I was honored to help him achieve this dream and so very glad to be a part of it.”
Jasa flew up from Texas the night before the ceremony. She said it was really important for her to be there for her dad.
“I was really proud of him, and I wouldn’t have missed the ceremony for anything,” she said. “He went through all this work, just so he could vote. How many people just throw away that privilege? He was just so happy.”
Looking back through the process, Arthur said he would do it again — even though the process to become a citizen is long.