More than 480 people, who have been living in Iowa, became United States citizens today during a Naturalization Ceremony in Des Moines. The new citizens hail from 76 different countries. District Court Judge Robert Pratt was the first to congratulate the now official U.S. citizens after they took an Oath of Allegiance.

Pratt said it may have been difficult for some to renounce their allegiance to their former government. "You did not renounce, nor should you ever renounce, the devotion that you carry in your heart for the people of your native land," Pratt said, "preserve that always."

Shylesh Christian came to the U.S. from India 10 years ago to attend grad school. Now, he’s working and raising a family in Des Moines. He says obtaining citizenship is a long process. "You have to get your green card and then wait five years after that to be eligible to become a U.S. citizen," Christian says, "so it just takes time and patience I guess."

Christian says he won’t take his rights as an American citizen lightly. "I have the right to vote! That’s what I’m most excited about," Christian says. Most of the new citizens, 136, come from Bosnia. Another 91 are from Mexico. Natives of India and Vietnam both had 26 participants in the Iowa ceremony.