Chapter 2 - The Oath of Allegiance

A. Oath of Allegiance

In general, naturalization applicants take the following oath in order to complete the naturalization process: 

“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.” [1] 

The Oath of Allegiance is administered in the English language, regardless of whether the applicant was eligible for a language waiver. However, an applicant may have a translator to translate the oath during the ceremony. In addition, an applicant may request a modification to the oath because of a religious objection or an inability or unwillingness to take an oath or recite the words “under God.” [2] An applicant or a designated representative may request an oath waiver when the applicant is unable to understand the meaning of the oath.

B. Authority to Administer the Oath

The Secretary of Homeland Security has the authority to administer the Oath and may delegate the authority to other officials within DHS and to other employees of the United States. [3] 

The Secretary of Homeland Security has, through the Director of USCIS, delegated the authority to administer the Oath during an administrative naturalization ceremony to certain USCIS officials who can successively re-delegate the authority within their chains of command. [4] For example, the Director delegated this authority to the Deputy Director, District Directors, and Field Office Directors. Field Office Directors may re-delegate the authority by way of a delegation memorandum to other employees within their chains of command, such as supervisory immigration services officers.

In addition, immigration judges may also administer the Oath in administrative ceremonies. During judicial naturalization ceremonies, the judge in the district of proper jurisdiction has exclusive authority to administer the Oath. 

C. Renunciation of Title or Order of Nobility

Any applicant who has any titles of heredity or positions of nobility in any foreign state must renounce the title or the position. The applicant must expressly renounce the title in a public ceremony and USCIS must record the renunciation as part of the proceedings. [5] Failure to renounce the title of position shows a lack of attachment to the Constitution.

In order to renounce a title or position, the applicant must add one of the following phrases to the Oath of Allegiance:

  • I further renounce the title of (give title or titles) which I have heretofore held; or 

  • I further renounce the order of nobility (give the order of nobility) to which I have heretofore belonged. [6] 

An applicant whose country of former nationality or origin abolished the title by law, or who no longer possesses a title, is not required to drop that portion of his or her name that originally designated such title as a part of his or her naturalization. [7] 


[^ 1] See INA 337(a). See 8 CFR 337.1(a).

[^ 2] See Chapter 3, Oath of Allegiance Modifications and Waivers [12 USCIS-PM J.3].

[^ 3] See INA 103(a)(1)(6). Potential exercise of Oath authority by any of the following needs to be raised through chains of command to USCIS leadership and counsel for consideration: Any elected official, including the President, Vice President, or Members of Congress; military officers; judges (other than immigration judges or judges presiding over judicial ceremonies); or any person outside of USCIS, other than cases clearly involving the Secretary of Homeland Security’s direct use of Oath authority.

[^ 4] See INA 310 and 8 CFR 310. See INA 337 and 8 CFR 337. See Section II(V) of DHS Delegation 0150.1 (issued June 5, 2003).

[^ 5] See INA 337.

[^ 6] See 8 CFR 337.1(d).

[^ 7] See Society Vinicole de Champagne v. Mumm, 143 F. 2d 240 (1944).

Current as of January 13, 2022