Once you've successfully completed all the other steps in your naturalization process, you need to take the final step, the Oath of Allegiance Ceremony. Until you take the oath at your US citizenship oath ceremony, you are not yet an official US citizen.

If the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, you will receive a notice (N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony) to take the Oath of Allegiance at the naturalization ceremony. And like the naturalization interview, the oath ceremony is an important event. Therefore, it's crucial to take it seriously.

What is the Oath of Allegiance?

The United States Oath of Allegiance is a sworn declaration that all US citizenship applicants must solemnly swear to during a formal naturalization ceremony to formally complete the naturalization process. The Oath ceremony is a US citizenship tradition that dates back to the 18th century.

The Oath of Allegiance ceremony is administered at an administrative ceremony by the USCIS or in a judicial ceremony by the supreme court.

Under oath, you are swearing to fulfill the following duties:

  • Renounce allegiances to any foreign nation or sovereign and give up any noble or hereditary titles, if any.
  • Support and defend the principles of the US Constitution and laws against its enemies.
  • Provide civilian or military service for the United States if the government calls upon you to do so.

All applicants must attend the Oath of Allegiance ceremony as the final step to becoming a naturalized US citizen. It is a mandatory requirement of the US citizenship process that completes naturalization. After the Oath of Allegiance at the naturalization ceremony, applicants turn in their green cards and receive their Certificate of Naturalization.

How Long After the Naturalization Interview is the Oath Ceremony Scheduled?

The Oath ceremony occurs after the USCIS approves your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

If the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has all the information needed to approve your application immediately after your naturalization interview and civics exam, your Oath of Allegiance ceremony can then take place on the same day. In this case, an official will ask you to leave and come back later the same day for the Oath ceremony.

Otherwise, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will send you a notice (Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony), including the date of the Oath ceremony, time, and location. Usually, the naturalization ceremony will be held at the same USCIS field office where the interview and exam took place.

What if I can't take the Oath on the date and time scheduled on the N-445 Notice?

If you anticipate that you will not be able to attend the Oath ceremony on the stated date and time, you must take Form N-445 back to the USCIS field office, where the naturalization ceremony is set to take place. In addition, you'll need to submit a letter explaining your reasons for not attending the ceremony on the original date and time scheduled by the USCIS and request a rescheduling of your Oath ceremony appointment.

Failing to show up for the Oath ceremony more than once can result in your N-400 citizenship application being denied.

What to Bring to the US Citizenship Oath of Allegiance Ceremony

When preparing to attend your Oath of Allegiance ceremony, you'll need to plan for and prepare all the documents needed for the ceremony, including the following:

  1. Your green card, also known as Permanent Resident Card: You will be exempted from bringing your green card and the documents needed for a green card in either of the following cases:
  • You provided evidence (such as a police report) during your naturalization interview that it was stolen or lost, and you tried to get it back.
  • You were never given a green card because your naturalization application was based on your qualifying military service.
  1. Form N-445 (your appointment notice letter): If your naturalization ceremony is set more than one day after the interview, you must answer all the questions on the back of your notice letter before attending the ceremony. The questionnaire is specifically about changes, if any, made since your interview. A USCIS official will review your answers before your ceremony to ensure that there is no change that affects your eligibility for US citizenship.
  2. A second form of government-issued photo identification; can include a passport, driver's license, or state-issued ID.
  3. Travel documents issued by USCIS, such as re-entry permits and Refugee Travel Documents, if available.
  4. Any other immigration documents, requested documents, or any documents you forgot to present during your naturalization interview.

It's important to check the list of items strictly prohibited during the Oath ceremony.

How should I prepare?

There is no specific preparation necessary for the naturalization ceremony. The Oath ceremony is a constitutional requirement and won't demand anything unreasonable from you. Just ensure to bring all the necessary documents above and stick to the instructions in your appointment notice letter.

Do I need to memorize the citizenship Oath of Allegiance?

No, you don't have to memorize the words of the Oath of Allegiance. You will be issued a sheet of paper containing the words to the Oath, or the words will be projected for you.

What should I wear to the naturalization Oath ceremony?

While the USCIS does not hold explicit rules regarding how applicants should dress for the ceremony, they instruct applicants to wear clothing that "respects the dignity" of the naturalization Oath ceremony. This means you must wear attire that makes a good impression.

USCIS specifically prohibits attending the Oath ceremony in shorts, jeans, and flip-flops.

When should I arrive for the Oath of Allegiance ceremony?

Applicants taking the Oath should arrive at the ceremony by the check-in time indicated in their notice letter, Form N-445 Notice of Naturalization received from the USCIS office. However, it's crucial that you get to the facility at least 30 minutes early to have sufficient time to check in before the set time of the Oath ceremony. There are usually multiple applicants undergoing the ceremony with USCIS at the same time.

What to Expect at Your Naturalization Oath Ceremony

As previously mentioned, the citizenship Oath ceremony is a straightforward constitutional requirement. However, learning what to bring and where to go during the ceremony is crucial.


Once you arrive at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office or the facility holding your naturalization ceremony, a USCIS official will handle your check-in process.

This starts with the USCIS officer reviewing your appointment notice letter (Form N-445) to ensure you didn't answer "yes" to any questions in the notice letter questionnaire and to confirm your eligibility for the Oath of Allegiance. If you responded "yes" to any of the questions, it might affect your citizenship oath ceremony. In such cases, it's advisable to talk to an immigration attorney in advance.

If you are eligible for the Oath ceremony (basically, if you've passed the USCIS naturalization interview and exam and have submitted all the necessary documentation and information), you'll be required to hand in your green card and any travel documents issued by the USCIS, if any. These documents will be replaced with Form N-550, Certificate of Naturalization, at the end of the ceremony.

As you check-in, you'll receive the following set of materials:

  • American flag
  • A welcome packet
  • Form M-76 (Citizen's Almanac)
  • Form M-654 (Pocket-sized pamphlet of the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution)

After check-in

After successfully checking in and before taking the Oath of Allegiance, USCIS will provide a presentation including music, videos, and opening remarks by the Master of Ceremonies or, in some cases, a guest speaker.

Take your Oath of Allegiance

Of course, the most important and exciting part of the naturalization ceremony is when it's time to take your Oath of Allegiance.

Following the USCIS presentation, all naturalization applicants will then be requested to stand, raise the right hand and recite the US Oath of Allegiance aloud in front of the USCIS officials. Fortunately, you don't have to memorize the words of the Oath beforehand. You'll only need to repeat the words of the Oath provided.

The Oath ceremony ends with applicants reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, which should not be confused with the naturalization Oath of Allegiance, followed by comments to close the Oath ceremony from the Master of Ceremony.

What happens after the US Oath of Allegiance ceremony?

After taking the Oath of Allegiance, you will be formally a US citizen with all the rights and privileges of citizenship.

Once you complete the citizenship Oath ceremony, the USCIS will give you your Certificate of Naturalization. Carefully check your Certificate of Naturalization for any errors and notify USCIS before leaving the Oath ceremony.

Your naturalization certificate serves as official proof that you are a citizen of the United States, so ensure you store it safely.

If you lose your Certificate of Naturalization, you will need to request a replacement by submitting Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document, and pay a replacement fee of $555.

Once you become an official US citizen, you will have access to additional privileges, services, and benefits, including:

Apply for a US Passport

  • You will get a US passport application at your naturalization oath ceremony in the Welcome Packet. The application is also available at several US post offices or online via travel.state.gov. You need to allow adequate time between the US citizenship Oath ceremony and any planned travel to get your passport.

Register to Vote

  • You will get an application for voter registration at your naturalization ceremony after taking the Oath of Allegiance. And in some USCIS field offices, you may be allowed to register to vote on-site through a non-governmental organization after the naturalization ceremony.

Update your Social Security Record

If all these sound intimidating and complicated, you can hire an immigration law firm to guide and walk you through the steps until you complete your citizenship process.

Special Situations

In special situations, applicants can't recite the Oath for certain reasons or prefer to recite a different version.

You may choose not to recite the Oath of Allegiance or recite a different version in one or more of the following cases:

  1. You are not willing to, or cannot, report for military service due to religious objections. You must provide proof from your religious organization where you are a member explaining this special situation and vouching for your exceptional standing in the organization. If approved, you may then omit those words when reciting the Oath.
  2. You are not willing to, or cannot, recite the Oath of Allegiance if it contains the words "on oath" as well as "so help me, God." If so, you may request the USCIS for a modified version of the Oath. In this case, you will not have to show or provide any explanation or proof explaining why you are making the special request.
  3. You can't understand or cannot express your understanding of what the Oath of Allegiance means due to developmental or physical disability or mental impairment. Here, you can request a waiver of the Oath of Allegiance requirement from the USCIS. If accepted, you will not be required to recite the Oath. To get the waiver approved, you will need to present the following documents before the Oath Ceremony:
  • A written request by your surrogate, representative, or legal guardian.
  • A written evaluation drafted by a doctor who has long known you or knows you're your medical condition.

In Conclusion

The US citizenship Oath ceremony is always a wonderful time in the applicants' life when they are finally getting rewards for their immigration efforts. It is the final step that completes the naturalization process and makes an applicant a US citizen. 

Still, getting US citizenship can be a complicated process, but working with a qualified immigration lawyer can make it pretty much easier. If you need more information or don't want to handle your naturalization case alone, we may be able to assist. Contact us today to get legal help.