Oath of Allegiance Ceremony
What to expect in the final step of the U.S. naturalization process, the Oath of Allegiance citizenship ceremony
Once you successfully complete your application, biometrics, an interview, and pass the citizenship test, you are now at the final stage of naturalization, Oath of Allegiance Ceremony. You are not yet a U.S. citizen until you take the Oath of Allegiance at the citizenship ceremony. You will receive a notice to take the Oath of Allegiance (N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony) which includes a request to answer some additional questions that will be submitted at your oath ceremony.
Then, what is the oath ceremony, also known as citizenship ceremony?
The oath ceremony is administered by USCIS, at an administrative ceremony or by a judge, in a judicial ceremony. This is a sworn declaration that every applicant must recite during a formal ceremony in order to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
You are swearing under oath promising to fulfill the following duties:
- Renounce Foreign Allegiances: You must renounce all foreign allegiances to become a U.S. citizen.
- Support the Constitution: You must be willing to support and defend the principles of the Constitution and the laws of the United States.
- Serve the United States: You must be willing to (a) fight in the U.S. Armed Forces, (b) perform noncombatant service in the U.S. Armed Forces, and (c) perform civilian service for the United States.
It is mandatory for all applicants to attend the Oath of Allegiance ceremony to become a U.S. Citizen. After taking the Oath of Allegiance at the citizenship ceremony, you will turn in your green card and receive your Certificate of Naturalization.
Here, we will guide you what to expect, before, during, and after the citizenship ceremony.
Before the Citizenship Ceremony
1. How long after the citizenship interview, does the Oath Ceremony will be held?
If the USCIS officer has all necessary information and documents to approve your naturalization application during the citizenship interview, your citizenship ceremony could possibly take place on that same day. In that event, you will be asked to leave after the interview and return for the oath ceremony later on that day.
If you are not scheduled on the same day after your citizenship interview, then you will receive a notice, “Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony”, with the date, time, and location of the oath ceremony. In most cases, the citizenship ceremony will take place at the same location where the citizenship interview took place, the USCIS field office.
What is the Form N-445?
The Form N-445 is a two page document consisting of the applicant’s alien registration number, the date the form was issued, the date and place of the applicant’s oath citizenship ceremony, a list of the items required to bring to the oath ceremony and a series of yes-or-no questions. These questions on the second page of N-445 must be answered before the citizenship ceremony.
2. What if I cannot attend the Oath Ceremony stated in the N-445 Notice?
If you cannot attend your scheduled oath ceremony, then you must return your Form N-445 notice to the USCIS field office where the Oath of Allegiance Ceremony will take place. Along with the return of the N-445, you must also submit a letter explaining the reason why you cannot attend the ceremony and request a new date for the citizenship ceremony. If you fail to attend more than once for your oath of allegiance ceremony, your N-400 application may be denied.
3. What is the Oath Ceremony Dress Code?
The dress code USCIS instructs all applicants is to wear that “respects the dignity” of the Oath of Allegiance ceremony. The USCIS specifically prohibits wearing jeans, shorts, and flip flops.
4. What to Bring to the Oath Ceremony?
- Your Green Card unless you gave proof during your citizenship interview that your green card was lost or stolen, and you tried to get it back; or you were never issued one because you are applying naturalization based on your qualifying military service.
- Your appointment notice letter (Form N-445). You must complete all questions on the back of the notice before arriving at your citizenship ceremony. The questions refer to any changes made after your interview and until the date of the oath ceremony.
- Second form of government issued photo identification, such as, driver’s license, passport, or state-issued ID.
- USCIS-issued travel documents. These include your re-entry permit and/or Refugee Travel Document, if any.
- Any document you forgot to bring to your citizenship interview, you must bring these to your oath ceremony.
NOTE: To see what items are prohibited on federal properties, check this page.
5. Do I need to memorize the Oath of Allegiance at the citizenship ceremony?
No, you do not have to memorize. You will be given a sheet of paper that states the Oath of Allegiance or it will appear on the screen for you. For your information, full text of the Oath of Allegiance is:
OATH OF ALLEGIANCE TO THE UNITED STATES
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”
During the Citizenship Ceremony - What to Expect at the Oath Ceremony for US Citizenship
1. Checking In
Once you arrive at the USCIS field office or other facility that will hold your citizenship ceremony, a USCIS officer will check you in. During the check-in, the officer will review your responses to the questionnaire in the back of the Form N-445 to make sure that you did not answer “yes”. Thus, please complete your responses to the questionnaire of the N-445 before you arrive. This is to determine that you are eligible to take the Oath of Allegiance.
Return your Green Card: You must return your green card to USCIS when you check in. This requirement is waived if you provided proof during your citizenship interview that the card has been lost and you have attempted to recover it, or if, because of your military service, you were never granted permanent residence. You will no longer need your green card because you will receive your Certificate of Naturalization after you take the Oath of Allegiance.
IMPORTANT: Be advised to arrive at least 30 minutes early to give yourself enough time to go through the check-in process.
2. After Checking In - What to Expect at the Oath Ceremony
After successful checking-in and before taking the Oath Ceremony, USCIS will give a presentation that includes videos, music, and opening remarks from a “Master of Ceremonies” and possibly a guest speaker.
All applicants will then be instructed to stand, raise your right hand, and recite the Oath of Allegiance aloud before a USCIS official.
If you wish to recite a different version of the Oath of Allegiance or to not recite it at all, you may do so if one of the following applies:
- You cannot, or are not willing to, perform military service because of religious objections. If so, you will have to provide documentation from your religious organization of which you are a member of that explains the reason why you cannot recite to such and show your good standing in the organization. If accepted, then you may omit these words when taking the Oath.
- You cannot, or are not willing to, recite the Oath if it includes the words “on oath” and “so help me God”. If you wish not to recite this, you may request for a modified version of the Oath. You do not have to show or give any explanation as to why you are making this request.
- You cannot understand, or are not able to express that you understand, the meaning of the Oath of Allegiance because of a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment. In such cases, you can request that USCIS waive the Oath of Allegiance requirement. If approved, you will not need to recite the Oath. To be approved, you will have to provide the following prior to the Oath Ceremony:
- A written request, drafted by your family, surrogate, legal guardian, or representative.
- A written evaluation by a doctor who has known you the longest or is most familiar with your medical condition.
The Oath of Allegiance ceremony completes by recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
After the Citizenship Ceremony
When you complete taking the Oath of Allegiance, you will receive your Certificate of Naturalization.
CONGRATULATIONS!!! You are now a U.S. Citizen. Enjoy all privileges as an American citizen.
IMPORTANT: Please carefully review for any errors on your certificate and notify USCIS of any corrections to your certificate before leaving the ceremony site.
The Certificate of Naturalization is an official proof of U.S. Citizenship. Please store it in a safe place because it will be costly to replace it. If you lose the Certificate of Naturalization, you may request a replacement by filing Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document.
What to Do after Becoming a US Citizen
Once you become a U.S. citizen, we recommend that you do the following:
- Apply for a U.S. Passport: In addition to your Certificate of Naturalization, a U.S. passport serves as official proof of citizenship. You will get an application for a U.S. passport at your ceremony in the U.S. Citizenship Welcome Packet. It is also available at most U.S. Post Offices or via the web: http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html
- Register to Vote: Voting in federal elections is both a right and a responsibility that comes with U.S. citizenship. At administrative naturalization ceremonies, forms may be distributed by a state or local government election office, a non-governmental organization, or a USCIS official. You may register to vote at other locations in your community, which may include post offices, motor vehicle offices, and offices of your state Secretary of State. For more information, you can see: https://www.eac.gov/voters
- Update your Social Security Record: Please wait at least 10 days after your ceremony before going to the Social Security Administration (SSA) to ensure that data reflecting your naturalization has been updated. You will need to bring your Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport when you visit the SSA. To find your local Social Security office, you can visit: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/
In this article, we looked through what to expect at the Oath ceremony for U.S. citizenship, the dress code for the Oath ceremony and the importance of answering questionnaires on N-445 and what to do after becoming a US citizen. If you have any questions, ask Lawfully for more information.