In the nearly 100 years since her birth in Iran, Khatoun Khoykani has survived world wars and revolutions and now, 15 years after making a move to the United States, the 99-year-old has added another unlikely feat to her resume – becoming a US citizen.
Khoykani was one of 3,700 people who attended the Los Angeles Convention Center on Friday for a naturalization ceremony. “I’m so excited, I can’t even think,” Khoykani admitted. The moment also saw the 99-year-old becoming one of the very small number of people over the age of 95 to have become naturalized in the Los Angeles area, and LA’s oldest naturalized person so far this year, according to Claire Nichols from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Just 27 people aged over 100 have gained US citizenship over the course of the last 50 years, the agency claims. “You have to commend this woman,” Nichols notes. “It’s pretty remarkable. We don’t get too many people her age.”
The oldest person to ever gain US citizenship was Manik Bokchalian, a Turkish immigrant living in Los Angeles who was 117 years old when she was naturalized 16 years ago, back in 1997.
Khoykani has wanted to move to the United States since hearing her father first talk about it when she was a child, and came to the country 15 years ago, back in 1998, in order to be with her three children, who had immigrated 15 years earlier.