Chapter 3: USCIS Authority to Naturalize

It has long been established that Congress has the exclusive authority under its constitutional power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization and to enact legislation under which citizenship may be conferred upon persons.​ [1] See Chirac v. Chirac, 15 U.S. 259 (1817). Before 1991, naturalization within the United States was a judicial function exercised since 1790 by various courts designated in statutes enacted by Congress under its constitutional power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.​

As of October 1, 1991, Congress transferred the naturalization authority to the Attorney General (now the Secretary of DHS).​ [2] See INA 310(a). USCIS is authorized to perform such acts as are necessary to properly implement the Secretary’s authority.​ [3] See INA 310. In certain cases, an applicant for naturalization may choose to have the Oath of Allegiance​ [4] See INA 337(a). administered by USCIS or by an eligible court with jurisdiction. Eligible courts may choose to have exclusive authority to administer the Oath of Allegiance. ​