Preparing for U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony

Congratulations! You’re nearly a United States citizen. All the hard work is done. The U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony is the final step of the naturalization process. 

You’ve made it through the lengthy, challenging requirements, the USCIS has approved your Form N-400, and you are ready to enjoy the benefits of full U.S. citizenship. You’ve also completed the naturalization application and passed the citizenship test and interview. Now, it’s time to celebrate your journey to U.S. citizenship! Don’t know what to expect at your Naturalization Ceremony? Don’t worry; we have the information here.

us immigrant pledging oath of allegiance
A U.S. immigrant pledging the Oath of Allegiance. The U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony is the last step of your path to citizenship.

What You Can Expect at the U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony

The main event of the Naturalization Ceremony is the Oath of Allegiance. This ceremony is a significant and exciting experience because it is here that you officially become a U.S. citizen.

You will receive Form N-445, which will inform you when and where your ceremony will be held. It will also tell you what to bring to the ceremony, which could include:

  • Your Permanent Resident Card (green card)
  • Your reentry permit (if you have one)
  • Any other immigration documents you might have

Check-In at Your Naturalization Ceremony

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. Therefore, you’ll want to complete your answers before you arrive. 

Your answers reflect your current circumstances after the USCIS first interviewed you on your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Each of the questions on this form requires a yes or no answer:

  • “Has there been any change in your willingness to bear arms on behalf of the United States; to perform noncombatant 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 been arrested, cited, charged, indicted, convicted, fined, or imprisoned for breaking or violating any law or ordinance, including traffic violations?”
  • “Have you claimed exemption from military service?”
  • “Have you joined any organization, including the Communist Party, or become associated or connected therewith in any way?”
  • “Have you knowingly committed any crime or offense, for which you have not been arrested?”
  • “Have you married, or been widowed, separated, or divorced? (If “Yes,” please bring documented proof of marriage, death, separation, or divorce.)”
  • “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?”
  • “Have you traveled outside of the United States?”

Return Your Permanent Resident Card

You are required to return your Permanent Resident Card (green card) when you check-in at your Naturalization Ceremony. This is because you won’t need your green card any longer. Instead, you will receive a Certificate of Naturalization after you take the Oath of Allegiance.

Take the Oath of Allegiance

The Oath of Allegiance is truly the final step to becoming a U.S. citizen. All naturalized citizens are required to take the oath. Taking it is your promise to be loyal to the U.S. in return for the protection of its laws and its principles.

The oath is how you officially give up your allegiance to any foreign country and promise to be loyal to the U.S. and its values. You promise to obey and protect the U.S. Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land. By taking the oath, you swear that you will serve the U.S. if the country requires you to.

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 United States citizenship evidence. Carefully review the certificate and notify the USCIS of any errors before leaving.

What if My Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) Was Lost?

The government may waive the requirement to turn in your permanent resident card if:

  • You provided proof during the naturalization interview that the card was lost and that you tried to find it.
  • You were never granted a card because of military service.

What if I Cannot Attend the Ceremony?

If you cannot make the ceremony, return the Form N-445 notice the USCIS sent you 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?

When you go to your naturalization ceremony will depend on the USCIS district you live in. After your citizenship test and interview, your Oath of Allegiance ceremony may occur 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 U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony?

A ceremony is a momentous event for everyone in attendance, especially the petitioners taking the oath who have waited years for this day. 

Families often take pictures at the oath ceremony; therefore, dress in a manner respectful of the dignified nature of the ceremony. For example, you may want to wear a suit and tie or business casual attire. 

Do not wear:

  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Flip-flops
  • A baseball cap

You can expect to see people dressed as though attending school graduation.

Who Can Attend a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony?

Anyone you wish can attend your U.S. citizenship oath ceremony. Naturalization ceremonies are public events, and schools often attend to observe or participate in an active role. Additionally, you’re allowed to invite guests to attend your ceremony, including your citizenship sponsor, family members, and friends.

The U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony is a commemoration of your decision to live in the United States and the completion of your path to becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. Invite anyone you want there to celebrate your big day.

Where Will I Take the Oath?

There are two citizenship ceremony types, and which one you’ll attend depends on the USCIS district where you live. You may participate in a judicial ceremony where a judge administers your Oath of Allegiance or an administrative ceremony with USCIS as the administrator.

For administrative ceremonies, you might take the oath on the same day as your interview at the same field office. The USCIS will tell you this after your consultation if this is the case and will ask you to come back later in the day for your citizenship ceremony.

Otherwise, the ceremony could be held in a federal or state courthouse, a small room, a stadium, or a convention center. 

What Happens After the Oath of Allegiance Ceremony?

You are officially a U.S. citizen! This means you can take advantage of the different rights and responsibilities that come with U.S. citizenship. After your Oath of Allegiance Ceremony, you:

  • Are allowed to register to vote in local, state, and federal elections.
  • Can apply for a U.S. passport or passport card as your official travel document.
  • Should apply for a Certificate of Citizenship for your child if they were under the age of 18 and a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) on the day you naturalized.
  • May petition for your relatives outside of the U.S. to get green cards.
  • Could run for elected office.
  • Can get started applying for federal jobs that require U.S. citizenship.
  • Are allowed to freely express yourself, although you must respect the ideas and opinions of others.
  • Are permitted to freely worship the religion of your choice.
  • Are required to pay taxes to local, state, and federal tax authorities.
  • Need to obey local, state, and federal laws.
  • Must support and defend the U.S. Constitution.

Update Your Social Security Records After Becoming a Citizen

Now that you’re a citizen, you should update your Social Security record. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a federal agency that provides retirement, disability, and survivor benefits. 

It’s crucial to update your documentation data because you need your Social Security number (SSN) to get a job, receive benefits, or apply for other governmental services. In addition, employers check your SSN to ensure you have the right to work in the U.S. 

Be sure to wait at least 10 days after you take your naturalization oath so the government can update its records showing that you’re a citizen. To find your SSA office go to the SSA website at

Finally, bring your Certificate of Naturalization or your U.S. passport when you go to your local SSA office. 

Count on FileRight Even After Your Citizenship Ceremony

In addition to getting answers regarding your Naturalization Ceremony, you can continue benefiting from FileRight’s services even after becoming a U.S. citizen. For example, we can help you file: 

  • Form N-565 to replace a lost Certificate of Naturalization
  • Form I-130 to help a relative obtain their Green Card
  • Form N-600 to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship for your minor children

Have your relatives get started by taking our green card qualification quiz today!

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