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Chapter 6 - Judicial and Expedited Oath Ceremonies

A. Judicial Oath Ceremony

An applicant may elect to have his or her Oath of Allegiance administered by the court or the court may have exclusive authority to administer the oath. [1] In these instances, USCIS must notify the clerk of court, in writing, that the Secretary of Homeland Security has determined that the applicant is eligible to naturalize. 

After administering the Oath of Allegiance, the clerk of court must issue each person who appeared for the ceremony a document indicating the court administered the oath. In addition, the clerk must issue a document indicating that the court changed the applicant’s name (if applicable). 

B. Expedited Oath Ceremony

An applicant may request, with sufficient cause, that either USCIS or the court grant an expedited oath ceremony. [2] In determining whether to grant an expedited oath ceremony, the court or the USCIS District Director may consider special circumstances of a compelling or humanitarian nature. Special circumstances may include but are not limited to:

  • A serious illness of the applicant or a member of the applicant's family; 

  • A permanent disability of the applicant sufficiently incapacitating as to prevent the applicant's personal appearance at a scheduled ceremony; 

  • The developmental disability or advanced age of the applicant which would make appearance at a scheduled ceremony improper; or 

  • An urgent or compelling circumstances relating to travel or employment determined by the court or USCIS to be sufficiently meritorious to warrant special consideration. [3] 

USCIS may seek verification of the validity of the information provided in the request. If the applicant is waiting for a court ceremony, USCIS must promptly provide the court with a copy of the request without reaching a decision on whether to grant or deny the request. 

Courts exercising exclusive authority may either hold an expedited oath ceremony or, if an expedited judicial oath ceremony is impractical, refer the applicant to USCIS. In addition, the court must inform the District Director, in writing, of the court’s decision to grant the applicant an expedited oath ceremony and that the court has relinquished exclusive jurisdiction as to that applicant.

Footnotes


[^ 1] See INA 310(b).

[^ 2] See INA 337(c). See 8 CFR 337.3(a).

[^ 3] See 8 CFR 337.3(c).

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

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”].

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