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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] 

Footnotes


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).

Resources

Legal Authorities

INA 332, 8 CFR 332 - Naturalization administration, executive functions

INA 337, 8 CFR 337 - Oath of renunciation and allegiance

INA 341, 8 CFR 341 - Certificates of citizenship

Appendices

History of Acquiring Citizenship under INA 320 for Children of U.S. Citizens who are Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. Government Employees, or their Spouses

Appendix: History of Acquiring Citizenship under INA 320 for Children of U.S. Citizens who are Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. Government Employees, or their Spouses

Before October 29, 2019, USCIS considered children of members of the U.S. armed forces or U.S. government employees, who were stationed outside of the United States, to meet the requirement of “is residing in” the United States for the purpose of acquiring citizenship under INA 320.[1] This interpretation was consistent with the definition of “residence” for purposes of naturalization under INA 316.[2] Based on this treatment of U.S. government employees and their children in the context of naturalization under INA 316, USCIS determined that “residing in the United States” for purposes of acquisition of citizenship under INA 320 should likewise be interpreted to include children of U.S. military and government employees stationed outside of the United States who were residing with their parents.[3]

This interpretation, however, was inconsistent with other provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), including the definition of “residence” at INA 101(a)(33) and language in INA 322(a) and INA 322(d), which suggested that the citizenship of military children residing outside of the United States should be considered under that provision rather than under INA 320. Effective October 29, 2019, USCIS amended its policy guidance to address these concerns, and determined that children of members of the U.S. armed forces or U.S. government employees stationed outside of the United States would not be eligible for citizenship acquisition under INA 320.[4]

On March 26, 2020, the Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act was enacted,[5] amending INA 320, so that a child residing with his or her U.S. citizen parent, who is stationed outside of the United States as a member of the U.S. armed forces or a U.S. government employee, or is residing in marital union with a member of the U.S. armed forces or a U.S. government employee who is stationed outside of the United States, acquires citizenship under INA 320 if all requirements of INA 320(c) and INA 320(a)(1)-(2) are met. In line with the statute, USCIS rescinds its previous guidance, clarifying that these children are eligible to acquire citizenship under INA 320 if all other requirements under INA 320 are met.

The amendment to INA 320 applies to children who were under the age of 18 on March 26, 2020.

Footnotes


1. [^] Even though the child of a member of the U.S. armed forces or U.S. government employee stationed outside of the United States may be eligible to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship under INA 322 since he or she resides outside of the United States, USCIS interpreted the child to meet residency requirements under INA 320 as well, which formerly required the child to be residing in the United States with his or her parent to acquire citizenship.

2. [^] For example, U.S. government employees, including members of the U.S. armed forces, are eligible to apply for an exception to the continuous residence requirement for naturalization under INA 316 as long as their residency outside of the United States was on behalf of the U.S. government. See INA 316(b). See INA 316(a). See Part D, General Naturalization Requirements, Chapter 3, Continuous Residence [12 USCIS-PM D.3].

3. [^] See Policy Manual Technical Update, Child Citizenship Act and Children of U.S. Government Employees Residing Abroad (July 20, 2015); and Acquisition of Citizenship by Children of U.S. Military and Government Employees Stationed Abroad under Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), No. 103, issued May 6, 2004.

4. [^] See USCIS Policy Alert, Defining “Residence” in Statutory Provisions Related to Citizenship [PA-2019-05] (PDF, 308.45 KB). This Policy Alert has been superseded by Policy Manual updates to reflect changes made under Pub. L. 116-133 (PDF).

5. [^] See Pub. L. 116-133 (PDF) (March 26, 2020).

Updates

Technical Update - Moving the Adjudicator’s Field Manual Content into the USCIS Policy Manual

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating and incorporating relevant Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) content into the USCIS Policy Manual. As that process is ongoing, USCIS has moved any remaining AFM content to its corresponding USCIS Policy Manual Part, in PDF format, until relevant AFM content has been properly incorporated into the USCIS Policy Manual. To the extent that a provision in the USCIS Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the USCIS Policy Manual prevails. To find remaining AFM content, see the crosswalk (PDF) between the AFM and the Policy Manual.

Technical Update - Replacing the Term “Foreign National”

This technical update replaces all instances of the term “foreign national” with “alien” throughout the Policy Manual as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].

Technical Update - Authority to Administer the Oath of Allegiance

This technical update clarifies that 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.

POLICY ALERT - Comprehensive Citizenship and Naturalization Policy Guidance

USCIS is issuing updated and comprehensive citizenship and naturalization policy guidance in the new USCIS Policy Manual.

Read More