For the past six years, Prince Ogidikpe put himself through the arduous process of applying for U.S. citizenship after moving from Nigeria to live with his mom in California. After graduating from high school at 14, Ogidikpe went on to study Biology/Pre-Med at California State University, San Bernardino, where he is now a senior, according to ABC News. Weeks ago, the 19-year-old finally received the letter of approval for his citizenship application he'd been waiting for all these years — all wrapped up in a box, just in time for Christmas.
When Ogidikpe's mom handed him the wrapped package on Christmas day, he thought it was just another one of her gag gifts, like when she gave him his own socks wrapped as a present earlier that day.
"When I got that box, I already thought she was pulling another prank on me," he told A Plus. "And then when I saw the letter I opened it and it was legit. The real thing. I couldn't control myself. I couldn't help but jump and scream."
Ogidikpe posted a video of himself unwrapping the Christmas gift and his exuberant reaction once he discovered what was in it.
The tweet of his video has since gone viral, with more than 34,000 people sharing it since he put it up on Christmas Day.
The teenager can now continue to pursue his education in the U.S.; he told ABC News that he'd like to go to medical school or get a doctorate.
Although the citizenship application process can take years in some cases, especially in areas with a large immigrant population, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) claims it is trying to reduce the time to six months or so.
Ogidikpe and his mom had been trying for years to apply for citizenship for him, but each time there was a mistake on his application, they had to start over. The cost of the application, too, proved challenging.
Immigration has been a hot-button issue, particularly in the past year. Many undocumented immigrants have expressed fear over how the incoming administration's strict policies will affect them.
Ogidikpe said that he wants his experience to show others going through the immigration process that they, too, should never stop trying. "Keep having faith that it will [happen] and, trust me, it will," he said.
As for American citizens who don't have to consider putting themselves through the difficult, expensive process, Ogidikpe said he hoped they were appreciative of what they had. "There are so many people who wish they were in your shoes," he said. "It may not mean much to you but it means a lot to some other people. Be thankful for what you were born with."