Waited Months, Still No Date for My Naturalization Oath Ceremony – What Should I Do?

Dealing with the uncertainty that comes of not having received a USCIS swearing-in notice even after a recommended approval for U.S. citizenship.

By , J.D. · University of Washington School of Law

Let's say you attended your naturalization interview several months ago, at which the USCIS officer told me that you passed and would get a swearing-in ceremony appointment by mail. But nothing has come yet. You are likely worried that it is taking too long, and might also be eager to obtain citizenship to as to petition your parents for a green card.) Can you do anything about such a situation?

What's a Normal USCIS Delay in Scheduling an Oath Ceremony?

Delays of several weeks—and even months—between when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducts the interview for naturalized U.S. citizenship and when the applicant is scheduled for the swearing-in ceremony are frequently an issue. The agency is persistently underfunded and backlogged. Still, some delays are clearly outside the norm.

What Causes These USCIS Delays?

The most likely cause of a delay outside normal processing times would be that either:

  • Despite the approval, your name still hasn't received final clearance by the FBI, which needs to finish running a security check before USCIS can officially grant you citizenship. This is especially likely to cause delays if you have a common name or if you share a name with a person considered to be a security threat.
  • USCIS or the federal courts are backed up in fitting people into their oath ceremony schedule. In some parts of the United States, only the federal courts conduct these ceremonies; in others, the courts have passed this authority onto USCIS, in which case the scheduling is usually faster (and sometimes same-day), because they can hold it in a USCIS office. But, for example, if you requested a name change, which only the federal court has the legal power to do, and you live in a region where most oath ceremonies are conducted by USCIS, that might account for the delay right there.
  • Something has gone wrong. USCIS is a big bureaucracy, and mistakes and lost files happen. Also, the letter with your swearing-in notice could have been lost in the mail. (We're assuming you didn't change your address in the days since your interview; if you have, definitely contact USCIS and explain the situation.)

How to Follow Up Regarding a Delay in Scheduling Your Naturalization Oath Ceremony

As for what to do, here are the steps most likely to help:

  • Get in touch with USCIS's Contact Center. But be prepared for a long process of navigating a voice-automated system; you're not likely to reach a live person on the first try, but at best might arrange for a call-back. Start early in the morning, on a day when you're likely to be easily reached. If the USCIS officer with whom you eventually speak can't handle the matter from a distance, they might make an appointment for you to visit the nearest USCIS office in person. When you call or visit, be ready with your green card and copies of your naturalization-related paperwork, in particular any letter of recommended approval that the USCIS officer gave you at the end of your interview.
  • Send a letter to the USCIS office that handled your interview. Include your A-number on the letter, and a copy of the recommendation letter given to you by the USCIS officer there.
  • Consult an attorney. Following up on delays and lost files is a regular part of every immigration attorney's work. An experienced immigration attorney will know what the typical wait times are in your region and how to make inquiries.

A final note: As you alluded to, you cannot petition for your parents to receive U.S. lawful permanent residence until you yourself are sworn in as a U.S. citizen and have received a citizenship certificate as proof of your new status.

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