What to Expect at the Naturalization Oath Ceremony

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Your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization has been approved and you have passed your U.S. citizenship interview. There is just one more step: You must recite the oath that will allow you to become a fully naturalized U.S. citizen.

What Is an Oath Ceremony?

At the oath ceremony, you will swear your allegiance to the United States and receive your naturalization certificate. Once you receive this certificate, you can apply for a U.S. passport and vote in national, state, and local elections. If you have opted to change your name, your new name will be on your naturalization certificate and you will be able to apply for other official documents (Social Security card and driver’s license, for example) in this new name.

When and Where Will The Oath Ceremony Take Place?

Depending on where you live and the oath ceremony schedule in your district, you could be scheduled as soon as the same day you pass your interview or you might have to wait several months before taking the oath. It might take place in a small room or a courtroom in a federal or state building or a large stadium or convention center. Sometimes special ceremonies are scheduled in historical landmarks such as Independence Hall or the U.S.S. Constitution. No matter where the oath ceremony is held, this is a momentous occasion, so make sure to wear appropriate clothing (no jeans, T-shirts, shorts, or flip flops).

You must attend your oath ceremony appointment unless you request a new date and provide information as to why you cannot attend. You should arrive about an hour in advance of your appointment time, as you will need to check in with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer. This officer will determine your eligibility and collect all your paperwork.

What Will I Need to Bring?

You will need to bring Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony, which you will either receive at the conclusion of your interview or later in the mail. The notice will give you a list of what you should bring to the oath ceremony, which may include:

  • Your permanent resident card (If you have forgotten it, you can take the oath, but will need to return it before you receive your naturalization certificate. If your card has been lost or stolen, you will need to sign a form and may need to provide a police report.)
  • Your reentry permit or Refugee Travel Document (if you have one)
  • Any immigration documents you may have
  • Your child if he or she has also been approved for U.S. naturalization
  • Any other documents requested by USCIS

Form N-445 includes a questionnaire that is similar to the one you received on your Form N-400. When you arrive at the oath ceremony, a USCIS officer will collect your Form N-445. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions, you may not be allowed to take the oath that day. For more on these questions and maintaining eligibility prior to the oath ceremony, see “You’re Not a Naturalized U.S. Citizen Until You Take the Oath!” 

What You Will Pledge at the Oath Ceremony

When you take the oath, you are pledging that you will renounce allegiance to any foreign nations where you have previously held titles or citizenship. You also declare that you will support and defend the U.S. Constitution. You agree to bear arms on behalf of the United States, perform noncombatant service in the armed forces, or perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by law.

To take a modified oath, you will need to prove that your objection is based on your sincerely held religious beliefs. For more information on this, see “I'm a Jehovah's Witness and can't take an oath -- can I still become a U.S. citizen?”.

What Happens After You Recite the Naturalization Oath

After you take the oath, you will hear a congratulatory speech welcoming you as full-fledged U.S. citizens. You will also receive your naturalization certificate. Make sure that all information on it is correct, and sign it and keep it in a safe place. For what to do if your certificate is incorrect, go to “I just spotted an error on my naturalization certificate – what do I do?”  Congratulations, you are now a U.S. citizen!

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