Every day, hundreds of people become naturalized citizens of the United States. However, it’s not every day someone famous is among the groups of people being naturalized. In this month’s article, we showcase seven famous and influential people that immigrated to the U.S. and made their way into naturalization. Let’s have a look!
Sofía Vergara, born in Barranquilla, Colombia, is a Colombian American actress who is perhaps best known for her work on the television show Modern Family. Vergara’s life changed in a chance encounter with a photographer on a Colombian beach when she was 17 years old. That encounter led Sofia to abandon her plans for a career in dentistry to pursue modeling. In 1998, her older brother Rafael was murdered in Colombia during an attempt to kidnap him. Not wanting to be caught in the unrest that resulted in his murder, Vergara migrated to the United States fleeing violence from her home country. In 2015, she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one year after becoming a U.S. citizen.
Sergey Mikhailovich Brin is an American business magnate, computer scientist, and internet entrepreneur, who co-founded Google with Larry Page. Brin was the president of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., until stepping down from the role on December 3, 2019. Brin was born in Moscow in the Soviet Union to Russian Jewish parents. Brin ended up immigrating to the U.S. with his family from the Soviet Union at the age of six to escape institutional anti-Semitism. Brin began his graduate study in computer science at Stanford University on a graduate fellowship from the National Science Foundation, receiving a M.S. in computer science in 1995. Brin co-founded Google with Larry Page in 1998 after the two met at Stanford while studying for advanced degrees in computer science.
Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington is a Greek American author, syndicated columnist, and businesswoman. She is a co-founder of The Huffington Post, the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, and the author of fifteen books. She has been named in Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people and the Forbes Most Powerful Women list. Huffington was born in Athens, Greece but moved to the UK at the age of 16. After graduating from Cambridge, she lived for a short time in London before relocating in 1980 to the United States. In 1990, she make a U.S. citizen as she became more and more involved in U.S. politics. In 2003, she ran an unsuccessful campaign for California governor against fellow immigrant entrepreneur Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2005, Huffington co-founded The Huffington Post with Andrew Breitbart, Kenneth Lerer, and Jonah Peretti. It was launched on May 9, 2005, as a commentary outlet, blog, and alternative to other news outlets. The site historically published work from both paid staff writers, reporters and unpaid bloggers. In February 2011, AOL acquired The Huffington Post for $315 million, making Huffington editor-in-chief. In 2016, Huffington officially left The Huffington Post.
Tristan Trevor James Thompson is a Canadian American professional basketball player from Ontario, Canada, who last played for the Chicago Bulls of the NBA. He won the 2016 NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers and has also played in the NBA for the Boston Celtics, Sacramento Kings, and Indiana Pacers. Tristan fulfilled the requirements to become a naturalized citizen in November 2020, with USCIS sharing the news on Twitter along with a photo of the NBA star taking the oath of allegiance. “I came to the US on a student visa and have always had big dreams. I’m now truly living the American dream,” said Thompson after the ceremony.
Salma Hayek, in full Salma Valgarma Hayek Jiménez, was born in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico. Salma is a Mexican American actress, director, and producer who, at the end of the 20th century, broke barriers as one of the first Latina actresses to establish a successful film career in the United States. In 1991, Hayek moved to Los Angeles to pursue a film career. Hayek faced discrimination in Hollywood when she arrived in the 1990s, and it was inconceivable to American directors and producers that a Mexican woman could have a lead role. The actress admitted in 2010 that she briefly lived in the U.S. illegally after her visa expired. The Mexico native finally became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2013.
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-born American bodybuilder, film actor, and politician who rose to fame through roles in blockbuster action movies and later served as governor of California. Schwarzenegger was known as the Austrian Oak in the bodybuilding world, where he dwarfed his competition. After moving to California in 1968 to train and compete in bigger events in the United States, Arnold would go on to win various titles before retiring. Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger pursued his childhood dream of acting in movies which lead him to star in blockbuster movies like Terminator and Predator. Arnold became a U.S. citizen in 1983 and commemorated the milestone in 2018. “35 years ago today, I became a citizen of the United States of America. I arrived here almost 50 years ago with empty pockets, but full of dreams. I owe it all to America. It was, without a doubt, one of the proudest days of my life.” said Arnold in a tweet.
Ana de Armas
Ana Celia de Armas Caso is a Cuban and Spanish actress. She began her career in Cuba and had a leading role in the romantic drama “Una Rosa de Francia” in 2006. At age 18, she moved to Madrid, Spain, and starred in the popular drama “El Internado” for six seasons from 2007 to 2010. Ana was born in Havana, Cuba, and raised in the small city of Santa Cruz del Norte. Her maternal grandparents were migrants to Cuba from Spain. Ana’s grandfather Ramon was a Spanish citizen, so she also had Spanish citizenship. After living in Spain for some time, Ana relocated to the U.S. in 2014 where she also acquired American citizenship and began her acting career from scratch.