What to Expect at Your Naturalization Oath Ceremony

Updated on January 4, 2024

At a Glance

  • The U.S. Oath of Allegiance is a sworn declaration taken during a Naturalization Oath Ceremony.
  • New citizens pledge to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, renounce previous citizenship, and be willing to serve the country when called upon.
  • The ceremony is a mandatory final step in the naturalization process, requiring proper dress, attendance, and necessary documents. After taking the oath, new citizens receive a congratulatory speech and their Naturalization Certificate.

Are you becoming a U.S. citizen soon? Or do you perhaps wonder what the final step to becoming a citizen entails? What is required of you? What do you need to expect and where do you need to be?

The Naturalization Oath Ceremony is an inspiring procedure you need to perform to become a U.S. citizen. Here you can find some more information that will explain all you need to know about it.

What is the Oath of Allegiance?

The U.S. Oath of Allegiance has been immortalized in all kinds of pop culture references. You read about it in books, you hear about it in songs, and you probably saw a mock ceremony in a U.S. based film. It’s not just a formality, but rather a giant step towards your American dream.

Only people who had the correct visas are eligible for Naturalization. It is a sworn declaration that takes place under oath. This means you solemnly swear (give your word) to perform the statement you undertake at the ceremony. This tradition dates back all the way to the 18th century.

In this oath you promise to do three main things:

  1. Support and defend the U.S. Constitution and laws against any enemies,
  2. Give up any previous citizenship, allegiance to another nation or sovereign, and renounce any hereditary or noble titles (if any),
  3. Report for military or civilian service when called upon by the government to do so.

Attendance at the oath ceremony is a mandatory final step to becoming a U.S. citizen (naturalization process). This is a requirement for citizenship that won’t be waived.

Don’t be afraid or alarmed at the idea of it. This oath does not require you to perform any unreasonable acts and if anything else, it’s actually an inspiring day to be remembered.

What is a Naturalization Oath Ceremony?

The ceremony takes place on a predetermined date which will be communicated to you via mail. The USCIS sends you a Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony (Form N-445). In certain cases, you could be eligible to take the oath on the same day of your interview. If so you will be asked to return to the USCIS offices later that day to perform the oath and receive your Certificate of Naturalization.

You must notify the USCIS if you can’t attend the ceremony. Attach a letter to your Form N-445 notice and return it to the local USCIS office. Make a copy of the notice and keep it in a safe place. The USCIS will reschedule your ceremony and notify you accordingly with a new Form N-445.

Where and When Does a Naturalization Oath Ceremony Happen?

The time of your Naturalization Oath Ceremony is mostly up to local USCIS offices in your area. Some offices are very busy and might only schedule your ceremony a few months from now. Or you could even be offered the opportunity on the same day of your interview (if you are eligible).

Depending on the nature and availability of facilities, your ceremony could take place in anything from a small office to a large stadium or convention center. Special ceremonies like these are often scheduled at historical landmarks like Independence Hall or the U.S.S. Constitution. As could be expected, this is a momentous occasion and you would be much better off dressing appropriately. Rather refrain from wearing T-shirts, jeans, shorts or flip flops. Please make sure you arrive on time and at the right place as indicated on your Form N-445 notification. You could be eligible for naturalization, but won’t be able to perform the ceremony unless you are listed as one of the attendees at the ceremony.

What to Bring to Your Naturalization Oath Ceremony

Bring your Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony (Form N-445) which you received beforehand. You either got it at your naturalization interview or via mail. The naturalization notice provides all kinds of useful information and it may also inform you about the things you need to bring along to the ceremony.

Things to bring along to your Naturalization Oath Ceremony:

  • Permanent resident card – You can take part in the ceremony if you forgot your permanent resident card, but you won’t get your naturalization certificate until you hand over your permanent resident card. Please provide a form that proves your card has been lost or stolen when you don’t have it anymore (you may need a police report to verify this).
  • Reentry permit – Or provide your Refugee Travel Document (if you have one).
  • Immigration documents – Please provide any immigration documents in your possession.
  • Family members – Those family members who are also eligible for naturalization on the same day.
  • Requested documents – The USCIS might request any other types of documents in the Form N-445 sent to you.

The Form N-445 has a questionnaire you need to complete and produce on the day of your Naturalization Oath Ceremony. The USCIS officer at the venue will check your questionnaire before you are allowed to perform it. Please note, you might lose the opportunity to take the oath if you answer “Yes” to any of the questions on your Form N-445. So make sure you maintain eligibility to take part in the ceremony.

Then remember to bring your best smile and a positive attitude. This is a wonderful day and it surely helps to elevate your life here. Perhaps you want to take a camera along to take a few snapshots of the memorable occasion.

The Ceremony

As previously mentioned, the ceremony is a constitutional requirement that won’t require anything unreasonable from you. Let’s quickly recap the most important things about the stages of this important event.

Before the Ceremony

Complete your naturalization interview and keep records of any and all information received from the USCIS. Keep copies of the documents you receive in a safe place to produce as evidence of eligibility at the appropriate times and places.

The USCIS will send you a Form N-445 when you are eligible to take part in a Naturalization Oath Ceremony. Note the date of the ceremony and make sure to bring along all the required documentation. Notify the USCIS if you can’t attend your scheduled ceremony. They’ll respond with a new N-445 to notify you about your new ceremony venue and date.

During the Ceremony

Dress appropriately for the day and take the oath. You don’t even need to remember the words of the oath. You’ll receive a sheet of paper with the words or it will be projected on a screen. You can prepare by reading the Oath. Pledge your allegiance and wait for your Naturalization Certificate.

Congratulations! You are a U.S. citizen.

After the Ceremony

After you have taken the Oath you are treated to a congratulatory speech that welcomes you as a U.S. citizen. You will either get your Naturalization Certificate at the ceremony or you will receive it in the mail. It depends on the USCIS in your local area.

Go through your certificate and make sure all information is correct. Sign it and place it in a safe place. You can always follow up with the USCIS if your certificate is incorrect.

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Conclusion

It’s a wonderful time in your life. You are finally reaping the rewards of your immigration attempts. You are becoming a U.S. citizen. The Naturalization Oath Ceremony is the final step towards U.S. citizenship. Use the information provided here to prepare for your big day. Congratulations! Go build your American dream.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.