Advise USCIS of Dates You WON’T Be Available for Naturalization Oath Ceremony

You can't pick a date, but you can stay away from a date you're unavailable

By , J.D.

If you are a U.S. green card holder applying for U.S. citizenship, you probably know the basics of the application process, or are learning it from Nolo's book, Becoming a U.S. Citizen. The process involves submitting a Form N-400 to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), attending an interview, and then, if you pass the tests and are approved for citizenship, attending an oath ceremony at which you are sworn in a citizen.

What you may not know – in fact, what not all lawyers know – is that you have a tiny bit of choice as to your date of oath ceremony. Usually, at the end of the interview, the officer simply congratulates applicants who have been approved, and then says, "We'll send you a notice scheduling you for an oath ceremony." Then you have to wait until the postal carrier brings you that all-important letter, and hope the date will work for you. (Remember, you are not a citizen until you have taken the oath.)

If the ceremony date turns out not to work, there is a way to reschedule. It involves submitting the Form N-445 that came with the notice, together with an explanation of why you cannot attend. However, this is a bother, and requires you to have a good reason, such as a scheduled surgery or trip out of town. What with all the back and forth, your request could significantly delay your swearing in.

That's why a bit of news from the Sacramento USCIS office is important, which was stated in a meeting between USCIS and a group of immigration attorneys. USCIS said that it's okay to tell the interviewing officer if there's a particular oath ceremony date that won't work for you. The officer can, according to USCIS, then write the date on your file's cover sheet, and you will be scheduled for the next oath ceremony after that.

There's no reason to think this wouldn't be possible at other USCIS offices at well – you can at least ask! But be careful about asking for too much. If you provide a long list of dates, USCIS may ignore your request, or figure you're just being difficult.