MANSFIELD – When Ukrainian Marina Olar applied for U.S citizenship, she initially believed that all she needed to do was have an interview. She didn’t know she would have to take a test.
Although she learned of the known difficulty of the Civics test, she didn’t let that intimidate her even though she had no time to study for it. She walked up the steps of the Federal Building in Cleveland to take her test, her husband and children waiting for her in the car, ready to sink or swim. And luckily, her calm nature and strong-minded personality paid off. She passed the test with flying colors.
On Sept. 16, she received her United States citizenship at the Northern District of Ohio from Federal Magistrate Judge Thomas Parker. With that out of the way, she’s now able to travel freely.
Marina comes from Ostritsa, a small village in Chernivtsi, Ukraine where she grew up with six sisters and three brothers. Cars weren’t very popular and she walked almost everywhere she went. She was constantly told to “be careful.”
“I like that it's different, it's more friendly. You can talk to anybody, you're not afraid of the strangers,” she said.
“I feel more safe because you have insurance,” she said. “And if something happens you always can call someone. In Ukraine, it's kind of hard to do that. And I like the firefighters, they come right away, and ambulance if something happens or the police.”
William Olar, chiropractor of Olar Family Chiropractic, met his wife while traveling around Europe to give chiropractic care in multiple areas as well as visiting his grandmother in Serbia. He had to stop through Ukraine in order to get back to where he was flying in and out of Hungary and visited a church where the two had their first interaction.
“I didn't speak English at all,” Marina said. “He asked me how old I am and, ‘What's your name?’ That's it. Later we exchanged emails and stuff. Just like friends.”
However, their relationship quickly turned into mutual infatuation which then became romantic. Although they didn’t speak much of the same language and were thousands of miles apart, William knew that Marina was the person he wanted to marry, though he had some initial fears.
While doing a missionary trip to Mexico in 2013, he met another missionary and confided in her about his situation.
“How do you know what God’s will is?” he asked the woman.
“Unless you take the first step, God can't move,” she told him.
William proposed to Marina after that, and to his delight, she said yes. He continues to take the advice he received from the missionary with him wherever he goes.
The Olar's married on Sept. 4, 2013 — a month after the proposal due to laws in Ukraine that say nuptials must be completed within that time frame.
Although they were married, they still had to go through the process of getting Marina a green card. So, for one year, William would make frequent trips to Ukraine to visit and they would often meet up in places where Marina did not need a visa such as Israel. In December 2014, they began the process of getting the paperwork in order to get Marina’s green card which took 16 months.
In January 2015, Marina received her green card and moved to the United States where she settled down with William in Mansfield. They now have three children Lidica (5), William (4) and Estera (1).
For the process of applying for citizenship, one must go through a probationary period of two years with a green card and then get an adjustment of 10 years. The Olar’s followed that process, and once the two years were up and they received the adjustment, Marina applied for citizenship shortly after on August 1, 2020. A year later, she had her interview and then took her exam. When she received her certificate, she went to the North District of Ohio for the naturalization ceremony where she took her oath alongside over 30 others who also passed the citizenship test.
"I think (almost everyone) was from a different country. And was very nice... It felt special," Marina said.
Now that obtaining citizenship is behind them, the Olar’s can move forward as a family. William continues his practice at his chiropractic office and Marina has her own business, Marina Dress Company, where she works as a seamstress creating wedding dresses.
Marina says she can’t wait to take advantage of everything she couldn't do while not being a citizen.
“I'm happy I can vote. I think my vote is very important,” she said.