U.S. Naturalization Oath Ceremony Explained

Once the USCIS approves your citizenship application, it is mandatory you attend a ceremony and take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.

If USCIS has all the documents and information it needs to approve your Naturalization application during your citizenship test and interview, your oath ceremony could take place on the same day.

If you are not asked to attend a ceremony and take the oath of allegiance on the same day as your citizenship test and interview then you will receive notification from the USCIS “Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony” (Form N-445). It includes all the details such as the time, place, and date of your ceremony.

The ceremony is most likely to be held at the same USCIS field office you took your citizenship test and interview. This oath ceremony is the last event in the Naturalization timeline after which you become a U.S. citizen.

On the day of the Oath Ceremony

Arrive at the Oath ceremony at least 30 minutes before the actual time. There are many other people who will get naturalized with you who are also required to be checked in with the USCIS.

If you are not able to attend the ceremony as scheduled, all you need to do is return the notice (Form N-445) to your local USCIS office and along with the form, submit a letter explaining why you are not able to attend the ceremony and request the USCIS to reschedule the ceremony date.

Attire for Oath Ceremony

As the ceremony is considered to be a serious formality, make sure you dress in proper attire to respect the event. USCIS specifically mentions that you should not wear jeans, shorts, and flip-flops. The safest bet is to dress in business attire.

Documents to bring to the Oath Ceremony

At the oath ceremony, you will be required to return your original Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) to the USCIS. Since you will be getting your naturalization certificate at the ceremony, your green card is no longer needed.

Other documents to bring to the oath ceremony are Appointment Letter (Form N-445), a secondary government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license, state ID, USCIS issued travel documents if any, and any other documents you forgot to bring to the citizenship interview.

If your interview and the ceremony are more than one day apart, then you need to fill out the questionnaire on the back of the appointment letter (Form N-445). Before the ceremony, a USCIS officer will check your answers to the questionnaire to ensure that none of the changes will affect your eligibility to get citizenship.

Questions will typically be related to having traveled outside the U.S. during the period between the interview and ceremony, any changes to your life such as marriage, divorce, separation or widowed, any crime or offense committed, and so on. Make sure you read the questions carefully and note down the answers before you get to the Oath ceremony.

The Oath of Allegiance

It is mandatory that every candidate who has filed the citizenship form recite the Oath of Allegiance to become an American citizen. The Oath of Allegiance must be recited at the ceremony in front of a USCIS official. Once done with reciting, you will get a Certificate of Naturalization.

If you cannot take the complete Oath of Allegiance as it is, you have to mention it in writing either at the time of filing your application or at your scheduled interview. You should have valid reasons and explain why you need to take a modified Oath of Allegiance.

You have to mention in your request, the words in the Oath of Allegiance that you want to be exempted from reciting. You should also give a detailed explanation as to why the words are against your religious beliefs if any. You may be requested to give additional evidence to substantiate your request for a modified Oath of Allegiance. USCIS will grant modifications to the Oath of Allegiance on a user-specific basis.

After you take the Oath, finally you will get your Certificate of Naturalization. This certificate becomes the proof of your U.S. citizenship status which is that you are an American Citizen. It is highly recommended you go to your nearest Social Security Administration (SSA) office to update your Social Security record soon after you get your naturalization certificate to change your immigration status to American Citizen.

Also, it is recommended to apply for a U.S. passport as it is the document you need to use when you want to travel to other countries. A U.S. passport can also be used as proof of citizenship. So you don’t have to produce your naturalization certificate to prove your citizenship once you get the U.S. passport.

Please be prepared to not leave the country until your passport arrives. As an American citizen, you need a passport to travel to other countries.