How to Dress for the Citizenship Interview

Updated on April 4, 2024

At a Glance

  • There are no specific dress requirements for the USCIS citizenship interview, but professionalism is essential.
  • It’s recommended to dress in business casual attire, showing respect for the interviewer and the process.
  • Similar principles apply to the naturalization ceremony, where dressing respectfully in business casual or formal wear is suitable.

The process of getting U.S. citizenship can be very long and confusing. There are different paths to becoming a U.S. citizen, each of which has different requirements (you can learn how to apply for citizenship here). Most of the paths to naturalized citizenship require an in-person interview. It is important to make a good impression during your interview. Read on to learn how to dress for a citizenship interview so you can make the best impression.

Is There an Official Dress Policy for the Citizenship Interview?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) does not have specific rules or requirements about what you have to wear when you go for your naturalization interview. In addition, USCIS citizenship interviewers are trained and required not to allow their feelings about how you are dressed to affect the decision they make about your application.

Despite this, it is still a very good idea to try and make a good impression on your interviewer. You can do this by showing that the interview is important to you and that you are taking it seriously. One way to show this is by dressing in a way that is professional but still comfortable and casual.

Why It’s Important to Dress Professionally for Your Citizenship Interview

The USCIS officers who are responsible for conducting naturalization interviews are trained to avoid being biased about how applicants are dressed or appear. However, even the best-trained person can’t completely avoid having some kind of reaction to other people. 

With that being the case, it makes sense for you to dress in a way that the interviewer’s natural reaction is a good one. By dressing in a way that shows your respect for the interviewer and the naturalization process, you can make a good impression before you have even spoken.

Although the way you dress will not make the difference between a good and a bad interview, it will certainly add to an overall good impression of you as a candidate. 

Finally, dressing well helps you feel confident in yourself. This, in turn, might help to ease your nervousness and help you answer questions well during your interview. For other tips to help you feel confident for your interview, check out the guide to the citizenship interview here

Suggested Attire for the Citizenship Interview

Fashion is far too diverse to describe an outfit that will work for everyone. In addition, the way of dressing in your country of origin determines what you feel comfortable wearing for certain occasions. 

However, it is possible to consider some broad principles that apply in many different situations. Cleanliness is probably the most important thing to keep in mind. Whatever you decide to wear, make sure it is freshly laundered and is not dirty or stained. Also, make sure your shoes look tidy and clean. Finally, make sure your clothes are pressed if they need to be.

One way to decide what to wear is to dress how you would if you were going to an interview for an office job, or you were meeting a customer for the first time. That is, choose clothes that are clean and presentable but also comfortable for you.

This way of dressing is usually called business casual, even though it is worn in many other places, not just at work. Business casual is a less formal version of the business suit that is often worn in the U.S. in formal situations. 

Business casual means you don’t have to wear a tie and suit jacket. A simple sweater over a formal shirt or golf shirt would be fine. Generally, you should not wear sports shoes or sneakers with business casual clothing. Rather choose more formal shoes.

If you prefer to wear formal clothing, that is also fine. The main thing to remember is that your clothes do not have to be expensive or fancy in any way. You are just dressing to show the interviewer that you are taking the process seriously.

What Not to Wear to Your Citizenship Interview

Sometimes it’s easier to understand something by looking at its opposite. In this case, it might be easier to understand the kinds of clothing that you should wear by looking at some of the kinds of clothes it would be best not to wear to your naturalization interview. 

The main thing to avoid is clothing that is politically charged or has controversial slogans. Clothing that expresses any kind of hateful or violent beliefs is an extremely bad idea to wear to your citizenship interview. 

In addition, try to avoid using too much perfume or cologne. The smell may be overwhelming in the interview room and create an uncomfortable environment.

The choice of how to dress for a citizenship interview is entirely yours. Your interviewer is required to avoid discriminating against you just because of how you are dressed. However, to make the best possible impression, it is still best to avoid wearing the kinds of clothing listed below:

  • sports or gym clothing such as:
    • tracksuit/sweatpants
    • shorts
    • running shoes/sneakers
    • vests/tank tops
  • visible dirty or damaged/torn clothing.

What to Wear to Your Naturalization Ceremony

Once you pass all the other steps in the naturalization process, you get to take the oath at your naturalization ceremony and officially become a citizen of the United States. Like the interview, the naturalization process is an important event. It is important to take it seriously.

Although the USCIS does not have explicit rules about the dress code at the ceremony, the USCIS Guide to Naturalisation does suggest that you wear clothing that shows respect to ‘the dignity of this event.’

Like the interview, this means you must dress to make a good impression. You do not have to wear fancy or expensive clothes, but your best choice would be business casual or formal wear. 

Many people invite guests and take lots of pictures and there are sometimes politicians or other well-known people who attend the ceremony. So, it is important to look your best at your naturalization ceremony.

The USCIS Guide to Naturalization discusses this topic and many others. You can download it from the USCIS website.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the appropriate attire for a U.S. citizenship interview?

For a U.S. citizenship interview, it’s recommended to dress in business casual attire. This means a neat, professional, and respectful outfit, such as slacks and a blouse or a button-down shirt, possibly with a jacket.

Why is dressing appropriately for the citizenship interview important?

Dressing appropriately for the citizenship interview is important as it shows respect for the process and the officer conducting the interview. It can also help make a good first impression and demonstrate the seriousness with which you are taking the process.

Should I avoid certain types of clothing for the citizenship interview?

Yes, you should avoid:

  1. Casual clothing like shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops.
  2. Clothing with offensive logos or language.
  3. Overly flashy or distracting attire.

Can I wear jeans to a citizenship interview?

While jeans are not strictly prohibited, it’s better to choose a more formal option like slacks or dress pants. If you do wear jeans, ensure they are clean and in good condition.

Is formal attire like a suit or dress required for the interview?

Formal attire like a suit or dress is not required but can be worn if you feel comfortable. Business casual is typically sufficient.

How should I dress for a citizenship interview in a hot climate?

In a hot climate, choose lightweight, breathable fabrics that still look professional. A short-sleeve blouse or button-down shirt with slacks can be a good option.

Are there any specific color recommendations for clothing at the interview?

There are no specific color requirements, but neutral or subdued colors are often recommended as they are professional and less distracting.

How important is grooming for the citizenship interview?

Grooming is also important. Ensure that you are neatly groomed, as this contributes to an overall professional appearance.

Can I wear religious attire to the citizenship interview?

Yes, you can wear religious attire to your citizenship interview. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services respects all religious beliefs and practices.

Should I remove piercings or cover tattoos for the interview?

While not a requirement, removing excessive piercings or covering visible tattoos can help present a more professional appearance. Use your discretion based on the size and nature of tattoos or piercings.

Read More

Final Thoughts 

There is no official rule for how to dress for a citizenship interview. Rather, your choice of clothing for your interview should be to make a good impression on your interviewer. Although interviewers are trained not to judge applicants based on their appearance, you can maximize your chances by making a good impression. You should also dress well for your naturalization ceremony. It is not a test, but it is considered a special occasion.

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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.

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