What to Expect at Oath Ceremony?
Updated on 01/28/2021
Oath ceremony is also called oath of allegiance ceremony. Your oath ceremony is an exciting day! It is an opportunity to celebrate with your family and friends that you have made it so far in the immigration process that you will now become an official American citizen.
There are two types of citizenship oath ceremonies to be assigned by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Whichever type of oath of allegiance ceremony you are assigned, there are certain details to be aware of, and several items you should remember to bring to the event. Moreover, as you might suspect, that the way that people take their oaths of allegiance in 2020 and 2021 may have become slightly different because of the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Types of oath of allegiance ceremony
There are two types of oath of allegiance ceremony available to persons approved for citizenship. The words declared in the oath are the same in both kinds of ceremonies, but the setting and participants differ slightly.
Judicial Oath Ceremony
At a judicial oath ceremony, the candidates for citizenship swear their oath of allegiance before a federal judge. Although many of these citizenship ceremonies take place in a courtroom, others are held at local, community venues.
One of advantages of judicial oath ceremony is that candidates for citizenship can change their name directly at the ceremony without a court decree of name change in advance. It really saves much time and money for those who would like to change name when becoming a United Stated citizen.
Administrative Oath Ceremony
The second type of citizenship oath of allegiance ceremony is an administrative event. Here, the naturalization candidate takes their citizenship oath at a ceremony before the USCIS. Generally, these oath celebrations occur at USCIS field offices near the home of the applicant.
Normally, the USCIS local office where you are interviewed only adopts one method of oath ceremony. For example, the USCIS San Jose Field Office and USCIS San Francisco Filed Office regularly conduct administrative oath ceremony. On the contrary, the USCIS Los Angles Field Office regularly conducts judicial oath ceremony. Some USCIS field offices allow candidates for citizenship to have oath ceremony in the way that is different from its routine practice. However, candidates must make a written request to the USICS field office in advance.
2. What do you swear to in the oath of allegiance?
The oath of allegiance is a legal promise made by those persons who wish to be made naturalized U.S. citizens. The solemn pledges declared in the oath include the following:
This sworn affirmation ends with the words, “So help me, God,” but this phrase is optional, so that it does not interfere with the tenets of certain religions or belief systems. Moreover, youth under the age of fourteen are exempt from taking the oath of allegiance.
3. What happens at a citizenship oath ceremony?
Preparing for a citizenship oath ceremony begins with learning where to go and what to bring.
Receive Your Oath Ceremony Notice
The first step in the process toward swearing in as a U.S. citizen is receiving the oath ceremony notice from the USCIS. Some candidates for citizenship may be able to take their oath on the day of their citizenship interview if they succeed their interview, but otherwise they will receive an N-445notice with the location, date and time of the citizenship oath ceremony.
If someone cannot attend the oath ceremony on that particular date, they can return the N-445 to the USCIS and provide the reasons for requesting the new ceremony day.
Check in at the Oath Ceremony
On the day of the citizenship ceremony, the candidate for naturalization will check in at the venue. They will need to complete the YES or NO questionnaire on the Form N-445 and provide it before taking the oath. If YES to any of questionnaires, it might bring trouble to your oath citizenship oath. It is advisable to consult an immigration attorney in advance if that’s the case.
Oath takers should also be sure to bring a second form of photo identification, such as a passport. Moreover, they should be prepared to comply with the security rules and procedures that are common in government facilities.
Return Your Green Card
Before taking the oath of allegiance at a naturalization ceremony, a lawful permanent resident will be required to return their permanent resident card, widely known as green card.
An exception applies if the oath taker was never issued a green card because they qualified for citizenship based on military service. If their green card was lost or stolen, the green card holder should have provided evidence of this fact during their citizenship interview.
Take Your Oath of Allegiance
Of course, the most exciting part of the ceremony is when it is time to take the oath of allegiance. Fortunately, citizens-to-be do not need to memorize the oath beforehand. They only need to repeat the words provided to them. Before actually taking the oath; however, there will be celebratory activities such as some videos and a speaker.
Once the oath is taken, all persons who have sworn their allegiance will become official American citizens. They can prove this fact after the ceremony with the certificate of naturalization that they will receive immediately after taking the oath of allegiance.
Get Your Certificate of Naturalization
The certificate of naturalization (see sample below) is official proof of citizenship. Therefore, it is important to check it for correctness, including the spelling of the citizen’s name, before leaving the naturalization ceremony. With this certificate, people can apply for a U.S. passport on-site or later by visiting an authorized USPS office.
If naturalized citizens lose their certificate of naturalization sometime after the oath of allegiance ceremony, they can request a replacement. Persons who have lost their certificate of naturalization should complete the Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document, and submit it to the USCIS. If naturalized citizens’ basic information (including name, gender, date of birth, etc.) has been changed, they can also request the USCIS to update their certificate of naturalization through filing N-565 form.
4. What if moving after citizenship interview but before oath ceremony?
At the oath ceremony, the USCIS officers will check your physical address that you provide in the N-445 form. If they find the physical address is outside the service area that their USCIS field office serves, they will not allow you to continue the oath ceremony.
Later on, the USCIS field office where you are interviewed will transfer your case file to the USCIS field office that have jurisdiction over your case based on your new physical address. The new USCIS field office will send you a new N-445 oath ceremony notice after it receives your case file. Apparently, it will significantly increase the waiting time to have a citizenship oath ceremony eventually.
5. Oath ceremony during the COVID-19 pandemic
The way that we live and work in the United States has changed greatly since March 2020 because of the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, many oath of allegiance ceremonies have had to be altered or rescheduled, as well.
The USCIS is slowly resuming its services, but they must comply with federal and state guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. As the data on COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations rises and falls, the USCIS must implement procedures that keep the public as safe and healthy as possible. Thus, during the coming months, the USCIS will be providing supplemental information on how they plan to administer the oath of allegiance at modified naturalization ceremonies.
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