What Happens at the Naturalization Oath Ceremony?

By Richard Ludwig
All colors and creeds are represented at a naturalization ceremony.

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The naturalization oath ceremony is the final step of the long journey to becoming a U.S. citizen. Having gone through years as a permanent resident, filling out paperwork, answering bureaucrat's questions and paying a hefty fee, the ceremony reflects all this hard work. Being prepared for the naturalization ceremony will allow you to enjoy the solemn procession to American citizenship without worry. After the ceremony you will have the right to vote, help family members immigrate, become eligible for federal jobs, receive a passport and enjoy the stature of being an American.

Ceremony Date

If your Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) has been approved, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will mail a notice (Form N-445) advising you of the time and date of the ceremony. If you cannot attend, send the notice and a letter stating your reasons back to the USCIS. The service will reschedule you for a different ceremony. On the back of the notice will be a list of questions you will be asked when you arrive.

Arriving at the Ceremony

Arrive early to the naturalization ceremony. There will be dozens, possibly hundreds, of others who will be attending the same ceremony. After arriving, check in with the USCIS. At check-in you will be asked a series of questions about your activities since your interview. You should bring the notice and your permanent resident card, which will be given over to the USCIS, with you to the ceremony. Proper attire --- long pants, closed shoes and dress shirt --- should be worn. You can bring family and friends to the ceremony, but it is not guaranteed there will be room to watch the oath.

Oath of Allegiance

After raising your right hand you will repeat "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance...I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic." In less than 200 words a permanent resident becomes a citizen of the United States. In less than five minutes a decade worth of commitment will finally come to fruition. Tears and smiles are all part of the oath. The Naturalization Oath of Allegiance is repeated by immigrants to fully confirm their commitment to the United States. The oath was established in 1929, and the exact same text has been used since.

After the Oath

After the oath has concluded the USCIS will issue a Certificate of Naturalization. The certificate is your official recognition that you have become a full-fledged American citizen. You can use the certificate to procure a new Social Security card and U.S. passport.

About the Author

Richard Ludwig has been a writer for over eight years and has had his work published in "Co-Ed Magazine," the "East Manatee County Observer" and the Disaster and Recovery e-magazine. He received journalism and sociology degrees from the University of South Florida.

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