I'm a Jehovah's Witness and Can't Take an Oath--Can I Still Become a Naturalized U.S. Citizen?


I am a permanent resident and was hoping to apply for U.S. citizenship. I am also a Jehovah’s Witness and I have been taught not to take an oath of allegiance to a country and that military service is forbidden. Can I still become a naturalized U.S. citizen without taking an oath?


To become a U.S. citizen, you will still have to attend an oath ceremony and make a pledge of allegiance to the United States. However, permanent residents who are “conscientious objectors” to military service and those whose religion has instructed them not to use the word “oath,” can request a modified oath from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Please see What to Expect at the Naturalization Oath Ceremony  to learn more this final step of the U.S. citizenship process.

There are four phrases of the oath you may, as a Jehovah's witness, be allowed to omit:

  1. “On oath” (You will instead use “solemnly affirm.”)
  2. “So help me God”
  3. “Willing to bear arms on behalf of the U.S.”
  4. “Willing to perform noncombatant services in the Armed Forces of the U.S.”

You should request a modified oath when you submit your N-400, Application for Naturalization. Form N-400 will ask questions about taking up weapons, joining in a war, or providing noncombatant services in the armed forces. (For line-by-line instructions on filling out this form, see Filling Out USCIS Form N-400.)

You must attach information to your N-400 application stating that you are a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in good standing (an active participant in congregational events) along with a letter on official letterhead that Jehovah’s Witnesses are opposed to bearing arms, military service, and using the words “on oath.” In your case, a letter from your congregation’s elder is considered adequate evidence.

At your naturalization interview, a USCIS officer may ask you further questions on this topic. (Also see What to Expect at Your Naturalization Interview.)

If approved, you will be able to omit the words that are contrary to your religious beliefs. However, you will still need to renounce your titles and citizenship in other nations, pledge to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, and provide work of national importance under civilian direction where required by law.

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