Matthew McConaughey & Camila Alves celebrate her American citizenship

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I knew Camila Alves is from Brazil, but she’s been living in America for work and for her family for more than a decade, so this news surprises me. Camila became an American citizen this week. Seriously, it took that long! She lived in common-law marriage with Matthew McConaughey for so many years, all of their children were born in America (and all the kids are American citizens), and it’s only now that she was granted citizenship.

Matthew tweeted the photo of their family celebrating in what looks like a courtroom. He posted this message: “congratulations Camila on getting your U.S. citizenship today- another fellow and great American.” Camilla posted the same photo with the message: “Happy to say I now hold an American passport! I have so much respect and appreciation for this country. #newuscitizen.”

It’s possible that Camila simply lost track of time and applied for citizenship later than I would have expected. It’s also possible that her citizenship process didn’t begin until 2012, which is when she and Matthew married. The citizenship track isn’t easy on anyone, but it’s slightly easier if you’re married to an American citizen. That might have been one of the reasons why Camila “pressured” Matthew to marry her (those were his words, by the way).

My father became an American citizen after he married my mom and after I was born – he sort of did it out of necessity though, for work, so he could get a security clearance. He loved his adopted country though and he always said he enjoyed studying for his citizenship test. Anyway, I’m covering this because I love naturalization stories!

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Photos courtesy of Twitter, WENN.

 

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52 Responses to “Matthew McConaughey & Camila Alves celebrate her American citizenship”

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  1. phoenix says:

    Their kids don’t look like him.

  2. Katie says:

    Good for her! Now I hope this marriage sticks! And she’s a pretty lady who can rock a red carpet

  3. QQ says:

    you have to be a resident for 5 years before applying and THEN also not be out of the US for a span of more than 2 years continuously then the application could be delayed then fingerprint which could still be a year away from Interview, so she being a traveling person alone could have delayed this… or she could be like some people i personally know and not have wanted the citizenship for a long while there but the time seems about right.. even with a fiancee type visa/residency path

    • BearcatLawyer says:

      Not exactly. Those were the old rules and were changed significantly in the 1980s, if I remember correctly.

      Spouses of U.S. citizens who have permanent residence (a green card) for three years (and have been married to their U.S. citizen spouse for those three years) can apply for naturalization. They do not have to be permanent residents for five years like everyone else. Natz applications are typically processed very quickly – in less than six months and in as little as three months in some jurisdictions. Since natz applicants can file their applications three months before actually completing their three or five years of lawful permanent residence, the timing of her swearing in ceremony is pretty standard, I think.

      Congratulations to her! Welcome to U.S. citizenship!

    • Cat'sMeow says:

      It took forever for my husband to get his citizenship. It may have been because he’s from an “axis of evil” Middle Eastern country, but we finally had to get a Congressman involved. They had thrown his application in a dead-end file.

      • BearcatLawyer says:

        Sorry about that, but at least he did finally get natzed! Glad your congressman stepped up too.

        A few years ago I had to sue USCIS over an Algerian client whose naturalization application was denied for the most bogus reasons I had ever heard. They even had the gall to hint REPEATEDLY that my client had terrorist connections when we had stone cold documentary proof that the FBI and CIA had thoroughly investigated him to work on U.S. government projects and found ZERO ties to ANYONE suspicious EVER. I then countered by threatening to depose the local office district director and question him in detail about how the Houston naturalization section processes applications from Muslims from predominantly Muslim countries – which was NOT something USCIS would want to be made public. During a pretrial conference when the assistant U.S. attorney tried to bring up the nonexistent, unproven terrorism crap again and strongly implied that I was un-American for representing my client, I shut that down really hard and fast by pointing out that I had a high school and college friend killed in WTC 1 and a cousin severely injured in WTC 7 on 9/11. I remember saying something like, “Let me assure you – losing someone to a terrorist act is a fraternity you never want to join. Now do you really think *I of all people* would knowingly and willingly represent a terrorist? Because trust me…if I ever find out that this guy or any of my clients is a terrorist, you won’t have to worry about them anymore. You’ll be too busy arresting me for murder. It’ll be a race to see which one of us gets to take them out first.” I will forever cherish the memory of the look of utter shock on the AUSA’s face during my tirade. We had a settlement agreement within a week, and the client got natzed promptly.

      • Kbella says:

        I’m sorry to hear that it took so long for your husband. However, reading the “axis of evil” brought tears to my eyes….I couldn’t stop laughing…Oh W. I remember when he said that mess.

  4. Jess says:

    Matthew gave them his blonde coloring, but their faces might change to resemble him more as they grow.

  5. Cobra says:

    For a second I panicked it’s another divorce story. I am not really interested in MM/CA, but tired of all the divorces floating around. Thanks for the nice story! Although, he said she pressured him to marry her?? Uh-oh.

  6. Susan says:

    She was probably here on a visa (likely a work visa), and not a green card until she married Matthew. You can’t apply for citizenship until you are here for five years as a permanent resident (i.e. all the time living here on a visa doesn’t count) OR three years after married to US citizen. So the timing fits perfectly if she got married to Matthew three years ago.

    • Miss M says:

      Precisely! I have been here for almost 10 years under a visa and I cannot apply for green card. Maybe , after I finish my PhD, I can apply.

      Congrats, Camilla!

    • Norman Bates' Mother says:

      I think so too. A former co-worker of mine, who is Polish, lived in the USA for over 8 years under a visa. She had a daughter with an American guy but they were not married and he died before their daughter turned 1. She wanted to stay there but she didn’t qualify for a permanent residency and she got deported, together with her American citizen daughter – I mean, the daughter wasn’t deported but she couldn’t stay there without a mother (Kelly Rutherford’s ramblings about her children’s “exile” would actually fit this story). The daughter is 13 now and she plans to come back to America after her 18 birthday, because she would have to give up her American citizenship to acquire a Polish one (insanely stupid old law not allowing dual citizenships) and we all wonder if the mother will be allowed to get another visa. She tried it before but she was denied, as it’s too likely she might want to stay there permanently. It will be even more likely when her daughter settles there – so she’ll probably never be allowed to even visit her and her future family.

      • BearcatLawyer says:

        U.S. children can file petitions to sponsor their parents for lawful permanent residence (a “green card”) if the children are at least 21, but as you correctly note, the daughter will have to establish herself in the U.S. first. It is highly doubtful the U.S. consulate will ever give the mother any kind of nonimmigrant visa with a deportation on her record and a U.S. citizen daughter, so I would tell her not to even try applying again.

        Whether or not the mother remains eligible for a green card through her daughter’s sponsorship is a separate inquiry. Without knowing the details of the deportation and her prior length of stay in the U.S., it is difficult to determine if the mother will ever qualify for a green card, how much time she must spend outside of the U.S., if she needs a waiver to apply, etc. Regardless, this is NOT a do-it-yourself immigration case. Daughter needs to move to the U.S. and hire a competent immigration attorney to help them in the future.

      • Norman Bates' Mother says:

        Thank you for your reply. It was very informative. I don’t know all the details myself, but as I understood – she got deported for being there too long and she either overstayed her visa or applied for the prolongation and got denied. She’s not a criminal or a threat, that’s for sure. I hope it will all turn out well for them and that the father’s family will help them.

  7. MrsB says:

    It took my SIL even longer to get her citizenship. She had been married to my brother for 13 years and their daughter was 10 before she was granted citizenship. She is from a country that America didn’t have a great relationship with though, so I think that played into it.

    • BearcatLawyer says:

      It depends. Security and background checks can greatly slow down the processing and approval of green card and natz applications. Plus, when I first started practicing in Houston nearly twenty years ago, it took over 3.5 years for natz applicants to even get an interview on their applications after they filed them. Then if they were approved, they still had to wait to get assigned to a swearing in ceremony. So I had many clients who were lawful permanent residents for ten years before they were finally naturalized. Processing times vary by district office, and not all federal court jurisdictions have monthly swearing in ceremonies. In rural areas it is not uncommon for natz ceremonies to only be scheduled every three months or so.

      Camila likely had a private swearing in ceremony by the picture. I do not blame her – the LA natz ceremonies are HUGE…several thousand people in an arena!

  8. Jayna says:

    My friend moved here when 12. She never applied to be a citizen until her 30s. She paid her taxes like everyone else, owned a home, volunteered. She had no desire to, nor her sister, for whatever reason until she realized she needed to start voting and be a part of that process.

    Liam Neeson had lived in the U.S. since he was 35. He never thought of becoming a U.S. citizen until after his wife died and the support he and his boys received not from just all over the world, but especially in the States, really moved him. Six months later he became a U.S. citizen at the age of 57 or 58.

    • Don't kill me I'm French says:

      Christian Bale lived since 20 years in USA before to ask or become U.S. Citizen in 2008 or 2012

    • Scarlet Vixen says:

      @Jayna: My husband has a similar story. He moved here from the Netherlands when he was 8, and was just fine with his Dutch/Canadian dual citizenship until 9/11. He was a pilot, and pressure was put on him by the airline to become a US citizen, so he (along with his parents & 2 of his sisters) all became citizens at the same time after living here for 20yrs or more.

      As a military musician I have provided music for several citizenship ceremonies, and it was always a very cool and moving gig. Seeing that kind of patriotism and pride in non-native Americans is very inspiring.

    • Jenny says:

      She paid her taxes like everyone else. Did she fill out IRS tax forms? How do you do that with out a social security number?

      • trish says:

        you get social security numbers on a green card. I’m American born but my father & his family came to the US when he was about 12. They were Permanent Residents for 4ever. They worked, bought houses and paid taxes, and eventually collected social security. My aunt in fact, just got her citizenship a couple of years ago and she’s 67!

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Liam Neeson and Christian Bale (and Camilla Alves) can afford fancy accountants to file US tax returns even if they move out of the country in the future. Only major country to tax based on citizenship instead of residency. Tax treaties help with the bill, but you still have to file.

  9. ncboudicca says:

    I guess I’m old-fashioned because I can’t get past MM wearing a ball cap inside a courtroom.

  10. ashley says:

    Good for her! I hope their marriage will stand the test of time,very pretty lady.

  11. Tippipippi says:

    Lovely to see a happy story, good for them, they are a beautiful family. He’s a great actor and I love his accent, I could listen to him talk all day!!!!

  12. Lucy says:

    Congrats to her!! She’s lovely.

  13. Alexandra says:

    Did anyone else think, when they started to read the headline, that CB would break the news of their divorce?

  14. AG-UK says:

    Some people don’t want it as their birth country requests you give you citizenship like the UK but they don’t really recognize from what I hear the renouncing. That might have changed but my SIL lives in Seattle and won’t do it for that reason.

  15. Bea says:

    Lovely family, I love how kids look like kids and how dopey he looks :D

  16. Amy M. says:

    Citizenship can take a long time. My dad became a citizen in 1998 (he got married to my American mother in 1982) so that means it was about 16 years after he arrived. He was kind of lazy about it since he had a permanent resident card and my mom finally pressured him to get the ball rolling. I think it took him about 2-3 years before the official ceremony. Luckily it was before 9-11. It seems there are more restrictions in place now since then and a lot harder to do.

  17. MyLittlePony says:

    My favourite man, and my favourite celeb couple – I so hope this marriage lasts!

  18. holly hobby says:

    Such a good looking family. I’m glad to see he finally has a fuller the face. It took him what? 2 years to gain back all that weight he lost for that movie? He actually looks like his old self now!