WILLIAMS, Ariz. - For most people, the Fourth of July means barbecues, parades and maybe some fireworks. But for Williams resident Stephanie Banks, this Fourth of July will be much more meaningful.
That's because Banks, who hails from London, England, recently earned her United States citizenship. On Friday she'll celebrate her first Independence Day as an American.
Banks has lived in the U.S. for seven years. She came straight to Williams, where her fiancé lived.
Banks met her future husband when he was serving in the Navy in England when the two were 17. After losing touch for several years, the two reconnected and started dating.
"It's all fate," Banks said. "So it was just meant to be from all that time."
Since Banks' children live in England, the couple lived there for while. However, they eventually decided to move to the States.
"I just thought it was a better life here," Banks said.
It took two years for Banks to get a fiancé visa. When the couple arrived in the States, they had to be married within 90 days. At that point, Banks became a permanent resident, but she still wanted to become an American citizen.
The process took Banks about five months. She had to complete an interview and study 100 questions for a civics test.
"It's a bit nerve wracking," she said.
To pass, Banks had to get six out of 10 questions correct, which she did.
"So (my coworkers) say I know more than what they do about the history," she said.
Banks officially became a citizen at the end of April at a ceremony in Phoenix. About 63 people from 15 different countries took part in the ceremony.
"That was lovely," Banks said. "It was real emotional...and very patriotic."
Banks now has dual citizenship. She plans to have a celebration this Fourth of July to commemorate her first Independence Day as an American citizen.
Although she's lived in the States for seven years, things are different for Banks now that she's a citizen.
"It means I am free to do whatever I want," Banks said. "I can come and go, I can go to England if I want for over six months, I just feel free. It's a good country, it's been good to me."