What to Expect During the US Naturalization Ceremony

Instructor: Dr. Douglas Hawks

Douglas has two master's degrees (MPA & MBA) and is currently working on his PhD in Higher Education Administration.

After the paperwork, the wait, and the process, it's finally time to take the Oath of Allegiance and become a citizen of the United States. In this lesson, we'll talk about the naturalization ceremony and give you an idea of what to expect.

How You Got Here

Depending on your specific situation, you've been working for months, or even years, on paperwork for your U.S. citizenship. The primary form, your N-400, finally got approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and you received a letter with a date to interview with a USCIS representative.

On the day of your interview, if the timing works out and the interview goes well, you may be able to take the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony that same day. If not, you'll receive a letter with the date and time for your naturalization ceremony.

The Naturalization Ceremony

The naturalization ceremony is the last step in obtaining your U.S. citizenship. The main event during the ceremony is the taking of the Oath of Allegiance, a promise that you will act as a citizen of the United States. Before you actually do that, however, there are a few administrative tasks that must be completed.

First, you'll check in at the location on the day and time specified in the notice you have previously received. When you check in, you'll give a USCIS agent your permanent resident card, so make sure you bring it with you. After everyone has checked in, it will be time for the Oath of Allegiance.

There are actually two different types of naturalization ceremonies: judicial and administrative. It doesn't matter which type you participate in- they serve the same purpose. The U.S. Constitution gives the responsibility to bestow citizenship to district courts. Some courts, however, have delegated that authority to local USCIS offices. In those situations, the USCIS coordinates and administers the oath. In jurisdictions where the courts have retained the responsibility to administer the Oath of Allegiance, a judge will administer the oath.

When it's time to swear the Oath of Allegiance, those completing the citizenship process will stand and repeat the oath before a judge or USCIS administrator. The oath reads,

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