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Archived from our former blog, The Beacon.

Naturalization Oath Ceremonies

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We received a question a while back on The Beacon about naturalization ceremonies, and thought it might be good to clarify a few things. Under the law, U.S. Federal courts have the right to exclusively administer the oath of allegiance. Some courts have waived this right and allow USCIS to administer the oath of allegiance.

If you attend a ceremony in which the court administers the oath of allegiance, this is called a judicial ceremony. An oath administered by USCIS is called an administrative ceremony. 

You will have a judicial ceremony if you live in an area that is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the court. Because USCIS field offices often service more than one state or more than one court district, different applicants may have different types of ceremonies, depending on where they live. For example, the Washington Field Office services both the District of Columbia and parts of Virginia. If an applicant lives in DC, he or she will have a judicial ceremony, while applicants from Virginia may have an administrative ceremony.

You will also have a judicial ceremony if you indicate on your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, that you would like to change your name. Your name change must be approved by a judge; therefore, your name change will be changed at a judicial ceremony. 

Offices that conduct administrative ceremonies may have same-day naturalization ceremonies. USCIS will post on its field office web pages which offices have same-day ceremonies when we revise the pages in the coming months. 

Finally, you may have a judicial ceremony even if you do not live in an area under the exclusive jurisdiction of the court if it is a special ceremony or if it is convenient for the office to schedule you for a judicial ceremony. Similarly, you may have an administrative ceremony in certain circumstances if you are not changing your name and the court has waived its right to administer the oath as a one-time event or under special circumstances. 

Please also note that the court does not have the exclusive right to administer the oath of allegiance in certain military naturalization cases.