Taking the Oath of Allegiance is the final step on your path to citizenship. You will need to go to a citizenship ceremony to take the oath if the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. This ceremony is a special and exciting experience because you officially become a U.S. citizen after taking this oath:
“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.”
What Does the Oath of Allegiance Mean?
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 promise that you will serve the U.S. if the country requires you to. Taking the oath is your promise to be loyal to the U.S. in return for the protections of its laws and its principles.
When Will I Take the Oath?
When you go to your citizenship ceremony depends on the USCIS district you live in. You might be given the date of your citizenship ceremony when you complete your final interview. If the district you live in doesn’t offer a same-day ceremony, you will receive Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony, by mail. This notice will tell you when and where your scheduled ceremony will take place.
The USCIS wants you to go to the citizenship ceremony you’re scheduled for, but you can request a different date if you have a good reason for why you can’t go to your original ceremony. Return Form N-445 to your local USCIS office and send a letter explaining why you can’t go to your original ceremony date.
Where Will I Take the Oath?
There are two types of citizenship ceremonies: judicial and administrative. Which type you’ll go to depends on the USCIS district you live in. You might take the oath on the same day as your interview at the same office. The USCIS will tell you this after your interview if this is the case and will ask you to come back later in the day for your citizenship ceremony.
In a judicial ceremony, the court administers the Oath of Allegiance. In an administrative ceremony, the USCIS administers the oath. An official will read the oath will slowly and ask you to repeat it. The ceremony could be held in a federal or state courthouse, a small room, a stadium or a convention center. You can bring your relatives to witness this important moment. Since this is your formal transition to U.S. citizenship, be sure to dress appropriately for the occasion: jeans, t-shirts or flip-flops are not recommended.
What Should I Expect at the Ceremony?
Be sure to review and complete Form N-445 before you arrive at the ceremony. This notice will tell you what to bring to the ceremony, which could include your permanent resident card (green card), reentry permit (if you have one) or any other immigration documents you might have.
- Check in with the USCIS when you arrive at the ceremony.
- A USCIS official will review your answers to the questions on Form N-445.
- Return your green card to the USCIS. You might not have to return your card if you gave proof during your interview that your card was lost or stolen and you attempted to find it, or if you served in the U.S. Armed Forces and you were naturalized without having to get a green card first.
- Take the Oath of Allegiance and receive your Certificate of Naturalization. The certificate is proof that you are U.S. citizen.
What Happens After the Ceremony?
You are officially a U.S. citizen! This means you can take advantage of the different rights and responsibilities you will have as a U.S. citizen:
- You can register to vote in local, state and federal elections.
- You can apply for a U.S. passport or passport card as your official travel document.
- You can get 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.
- You can petition for your relatives outside of the U.S. to get green cards.
- You can run for elected office.
- You can apply for federal jobs that require US citizenship.
- You can freely express yourself, although you must respect the ideas and opinions of others.
- You can freely worship the religion of your choice.
- You must pay taxes to local, state and federal tax authorities.
- You must obey local, state and federal laws.
- You must support and defend the U.S. Constitution.
You should update your social security record to show that you are a citizen. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a federal agency that provides retirement, disability and survivor benefits. It is important to update your record because you will need your social security number (SSN) to apply for a job and receive social security benefits or other government services. Employers check your SSN to make sure you have the right to work. Wait at least days after you take your naturalization oath so the government can update its records to show that you’re a citizen. Bring your Certificate of Naturalization or your U.S. passport when you go to your local SSA office to update your record. To find your SSA office call 1-800-772-1213 or go to the SSA website at www.socialsecurity.gov.