Congratulations! You’re nearly a United States citizen. The U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony is the final step of the naturalization process. You’ve made it through the lengthy, challenging requirements and are ready to enjoy the benefits of full United States citizenship.
Do you know what to expect at the Naturalization Ceremony? First of all, don’t worry. All the hard work is done. You’ve completed the naturalization application and passed the citizenship interview and test. Now, it’s time to celebrate your journey to U.S. citizenship!
What To Expect at the U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony
The main event of the Naturalization Ceremony is the Oath of Allegiance. In some cases, you may participate in a ceremony on the same day as your interview. Otherwise, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will mail you a notice with the date, time, and location of your scheduled interview.
When you first arrive at the ceremony, you’ll need to check in with the USCIS officer. The officer will review your responses on the questionnaire, Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony. You’ll want to complete your responses before you arrive.
Your answers reflect your current circumstances after the date you were first interviewed on your Application for Naturalization, Form N-400. Each of these questions requires a “yes” or “no” answer:
- Have you married, or been widowed, separated, or divorced? (If “Yes,” please bring documented proof of marriage, death, separation, or divorce.)
- Have you traveled outside of the United States?
- Have you knowingly committed any crime or offense, for which you have not been arrested?
- Have you been arrested, cited, charged, indicted, convicted, fined, or imprisoned for breaking or violating any law or ordinance, including traffic violations?
- Have you joined any organization, including the Communist Party, or become associated or connected therewith in any way?
- Have you claimed exemption from military service?
- Has there been any change in your willingness to bear arms on behalf of the United States; to perform non-combatant service in the armed forces of the United States; to perform work of national importance under civilian direction, if the law requires it?
- Have you practiced polygamy, received income from illegal gambling, been a prostitute, procured anyone for prostitution or been involved in any other unlawful commercialized vice, encouraged or helped any alien to enter the United States illegally, illicitly trafficked in drugs or marijuana, given any false testimony to obtain immigration benefits, or been a habitual drunkard?
Return Your Permanent Resident Card
You are required to return your permanent resident card (green card) when you check-in at your Naturalization Ceremony. You won’t need your green card any longer as you will receive a Certificate of Naturalization after you take the Oath of Allegiance.
Take the Oath of Allegiance
This is truly the final step to becoming a U.S. citizen. All naturalized citizens are required to take the Oath of Allegiance. It proves your commitment to the United States by promising to:
- Support the Constitution.
- Renounce and abjure absolutely and entirely all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which the applicant was before a subject or citizen.
- Support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
- Bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law, or perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law, or perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law.
You will recite the Oath of Allegiance, but you do not have to memorize it. It reads as follows:
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.
Receive Your Certificate of Naturalization
After you take the Oath, you’ll receive your Certificate of Naturalization. This is your evidence of United States citizenship. Carefully review the certificate and notify the USCIS of any errors before leaving.
What if My Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) Was Lost?
If you provided proof during the naturalization interview that the card was lost and you tried to find it, or if you were never granted a card because of military service—the requirement to turn in your card may be waived.
What if I Cannot Attend the Ceremony?
If you cannot make the ceremony, return the notice the USCIS sent you (Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony), to your local USCIS office. You’ll need to include a letter requesting a new date and an explanation of why you cannot attend the scheduled naturalization ceremony.
Failing to appear more than once for your naturalization ceremony may lead to denial of your application.
How Long After Your Citizenship Test Is the Oath Ceremony?
After your citizenship test and interview, your Oath of Allegiance ceremony may take place the same day if your petition is approved. Alternatively, USCIS may schedule a ceremony for you to attend within the following two to six weeks.
What Should I Wear to My US Citizenship Oath Ceremony?
The ceremony is a very important event for everyone in attendance. Some petitioners taking the oath with you may have waited years for this day. Families often take pictures at the ceremony.
Dress in a manner that respects the dignified nature of the ceremony. You may expect to see people dressed as though attending school graduation. You may wear a suit and tie or business casual attire. Do not wear:
- Flip flops
- A baseball cap
Who May Attend a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony?
Anyone may attend your U.S. citizenship oath ceremony. Naturalization ceremonies are public events and schools often attend to observe or participate in an active role. You may invite guests to attend your ceremony, including:
- Your citizenship sponsor
- Family members
The U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony commemorates your decision to live in the United States and the completion of your path to becoming a naturalized citizen. Invite anyone you want to celebrate your big day.