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Naturalization Oath Ceremony: What to Expect?
North Carolina is home to a growing immigrant community. While 8% of the state’s total population is foreign-born, immigrants make up a significant share of North Carolina’s labor force. One-third of all residents working in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations are immigrants, as well as one-fifth of residents working in Computer and Math sciences. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of North Carolina’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.
Why Does Citizenship Matter?
There are a variety of rights and benefits associated with U.S. citizenship. When you obtain American citizenship, you become entitled to all of the freedoms and rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, including but not limited to:
- The right to free speech and the freedom of personal expression
- The right to worship (or not worship) however you choose
- The freedom to travel abroad for as long as you want with the right to return to the U.S. at any time
- The right to vote in local, county, state, and federal elections
When you become a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process, you secure your place in America. Despite being an immigrant, you cannot be deported, and you will not face removal proceedings if you violate the law. American citizenship is permanent, and you can only lose it under very rare circumstances—usually related to the concealment of facts during the application process.
What is Naturalization and who is Eligible for Naturalization?
After an immigrant has legally resided in the United States for a number of years, they may decide that they want to become a U.S. citizen. The process of switching from lawful permanent resident (LPR) to citizen is known as the naturalization process. An LPR must meet several different requirements to be eligible for naturalized citizenship.
To be eligible for naturalization, an applicant must:
- Be 18 or older
- Have been a green card holder (LPR) for at least 5 years immediately preceding their application for naturalization
- Have continuous residence in the United States as an LPR for at least 5 years immediately prior to application
- Have been physically present in the U.S. for 30 months within the 5-year period prior to applying
- Have lived within the state for at least 3 months prior to application
- Reside continuously in the U.S. from the date of application to the date of naturalization
- Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
- Be a person of good moral character dedicated to the furtherance of the Constitution and the United States
Types of Ceremonies
Congratulations, you have made it so far! After successfully completing the application, getting biometrics taken , being interviewed, naturalized citizen may take either of the following oath ceremonies. There are 2 types of naturalization oath ceremonies
- Judicial ceremony – In a judicial ceremony, the court administers the Oath of Allegiance.
- Administrative ceremony – in an administrative ceremony, USCIS administers the Oath of Allegiance.
Activities to Avoid Before Your Oath Ceremony
It’s in your best interests to stay out of trouble and avoid any activities that could jeopardize your candidacy for naturalization during the period of time between your citizenship interview and the oath ceremony. Applicants have been turned away from oath ceremonies due to disqualifying activities, so you’re not safe just because you passed your citizenship interview.
Generally speaking, you should avoid the following activities or actions:
- Change in marital status – if your candidacy for citizenship is based on marriage to a US citizen, you must remain married to this citizen until after the Oath of Allegiance. Death or divorce can unfortunately lead to a rejected application, even if the events are not your fault. If you get married before your oath ceremony and change your name, USCIS will likely need to reschedule your oath ceremony to allow enough time to process the changes.
- Long trips outside of the US – short trips outside the US are fine, but USCIS officers will be on the lookout for long trips that indicate someone has abandoned their US residency. If you spend a few months abroad, you’ll want to provide USCIS with evidence that you have maintained your ties to the United States.
- Arrests and convictions – minor traffic citations or infractions likely won’t have an impact on your application for naturalization, but more serious crimes can affect your eligibility. Even worse, some crimes may result in deportation, which is still an option on the table until you become a naturalized US citizen.
- Lapses in moral character – individuals who participate in polygamy, drugs, heavy drinking, prostitution, and gambling are ineligible for US citizenship. Similarly, individuals who lie to immigration officials or assist others in breaking immigration laws are ineligible for citizenship.
- Joining the Communist Party – simply put, Communists are not eligible for US citizenship. Avoid joining any party or political organization with ties to Communism and avoid associating with groups that may pose a threat to the United States.
- Refusing military service or refusing to serve the US in a natural emergency – applicants for naturalization are asked to pledge that they will take up arms or perform noncombatant service if the US goes to war. If you join a religion or group that prohibits this, you must inform USCIS officials of the change and request to take a modified Oath of Allegiance as a conscientious objector.
What to Expect at Your Naturalization Ceremony
- Receive a notice – if you don’t complete the oath ceremony the day of your interview, USCIS will mail you a copy of Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony, with the date, time, and location of your oath ceremony. If you’re unable to attend the scheduled ceremony, you’ll need to return Form N-445 to the local USCIS office with a letter requesting a new ceremony date. The letter should explain why you cannot attend the scheduled ceremony and offer alternate dates or suggestions that would fit your schedule.
- Complete Form N-445 – take a few minutes to complete the questionnaire on Form N-445 before your ceremony. An officer will collect this from you and review your responses when you arrive at the ceremony.
- Check in at the ceremony – when you arrive at the ceremony, hand in your Form N-445 and your Green Card (if applicable).
- Take the Oath of Allegiance – there are four main parts to the Oath of Allegiance. First, you pledge support to the US Constitution. Second, you renounce and abjure absolutely and entirely all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which you were previously a subject or citizen. Third, you pledge to support and defend the US Constitution and United States laws against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Fourth, you bear true faith and allegiance to the same, to bear arms on behalf of the US when required by the law, or to perform noncombatant service in the US Armed Forces when required by law, or to perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law.
- Receive your certificate of naturalization – when you receive your naturalization certificate, carefully review the certificate and immediately report any errors before you leave the ceremony. This will serve as proof of your US citizenship, so it’s critical that everything is correct.
If you lose your Certificate of Naturalization, you may request a replacement by filing Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document.
Seeking Legal Help from a Local Attorney
If you want to obtain citizenship in the U.S. through naturalization, the first step is to hire a reliable a North Carolina immigration lawyer who can help every step of the way. While your dream of getting a Certificate of Naturalization and taking the Oath of Allegiance is not impossible, it would likely take a year to a year and a half before one can naturalize. With the help of legal counsel and guidance, you can prepare for the naturalization process, complete and submit all necessary documentation, and pass the citizenship tests.
If you are in need of experienced legal representation, contact our firm today for a consultation with a North Carolina immigration law firm a call. Contact us at Diener Law to consult with an experienced Greenville immigration attorney.