At naturalization ceremonies, groups of immigrants finally and officially become US citizens.
Becoming a naturalized US citizen is a process that takes years.
It requires knowledge, patience and support — not to mention thousands of dollars in fees and complete dedication to the history and culture of the United States.
So what better day to take this final step and proclaim allegiance to America than Independence Day?
Naturalization Ceremonies on the Fourth of July
Naturalization ceremonies big and small are held all across the United States on Independence Day. Since July 4th naturalization ceremonies are quite popular, they aren’t usually held at government or USCIS offices. Many naturalization ceremonies are held in places that can accommodate hundreds or even thousands of people becoming US citizens.
Popular locations for naturalization ceremonies include public parks, stadiums or arenas. Naturalization ceremonies have even been held in Walt Disney World!
What to Expect at Naturalization Ceremonies
After the official citizenship interview with USCIS, a notice will arrive with the date, time and location of the naturalization ceremony on it. Prospective citizens are encouraged to arrive at least 30 minutes early, as most naturalization ceremonies have many people attending and everyone is required to check in. Prospective citizens are also encouraged to dress nicely — it is a somewhat formal affair.
During the check-in process, green cards are turned in, and questions are asked. The questions are about what prospective citizens have done in the time since their interview. Sample questions are “Have you claimed exemption from military service?” and “Have you traveled outside the United States?”
Once everyone is checked in, the prospective citizens take the United States Oath of Citizenship. The Pledge of Allegiance is often recited next, then naturalization certificates — the official document of citizenship — are handed out.
Naturalization ceremonies are often concluded with guest speakers who talk about the rights and responsibilities of US citizenship. Sometimes, the president of the United States may deliver a prerecorded but personalized message of congratulations. Many times, there is a reception with food, drinks and local artists who create a welcoming atmosphere for the brand new US citizens.
What Is the United States Oath of Citizenship?
The United States Oath of Citizenship, also known as the Oath of Allegiance, must be recited by every prospective citizen before he or she receives a naturalization certificate:
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.
Depending on religious and personal beliefs, the lines about bearing arms and noncombatant service can be omitted with prior approval from USCIS officials, as can “so help me God.”
Whether or not it’s on the Fourth of July, with the conclusion of naturalization ceremonies, all foreign-born prospective citizens become actual US citizens, with all the rights and opportunities granted to each person under the Constitution and US law.