Oath of Allegiance
Once your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, is approved, you will be scheduled to attend your naturalization oath ceremony and take the Oath of Allegiance, completing the process of becoming a United States citizen. Typically, there are two types of ceremonies: the judicial ceremony, where the court administers the Oath of Allegiance, and an administrative ceremony, where USCIS administers the Oath of Allegiance.
After taking the Oath of Allegiance you will officially become a US citizen and have the right to vote, apply for and carry a US passport, hold public office, work for the US government, serve as or on a jury, and serve in the US Armed Forces.
After the Citizenship Oath Ceremony
On completion of your oath ceremony, you must:
- Sign your full name on the Certificate of Naturalization: You must sign the certificate of naturalization in clear, non erasable format. Avoid using inks that spread or fade out. It is best to use black ink pens such as roller ball or felt tip pens. When signing your name, make sure:
- Your signature matches your full name printed on the certificate of naturalization. Or your signature should match the signature on the photograph mounted to your naturalization certificate if you signed that previously.
- You do not use name abbreviations or initials in your signature.
- You practice your signature on a blank sheet of paper before signing it on the certificate.
- Make a copy: You should make a copy of your Certificate of Naturalization after signing it in case it is lost or damaged.
- Store your Certificate of Naturalization: You must store your certificate of naturalization in a secured place where it cannot be damaged or lost. Since you return your green card at the naturalization ceremony, the Certificate of Naturalization will be the only valid proof of your US citizenship. Therefore, it is best practice to store it with other valuable documents such as birth certificates, passports, marriage certificate, and jewelry, etc. A safe deposit box would probably be the best option to store valuable items so that they may neither be lost or damaged or burned. If you lose your certificate of naturalization, applying for its replacement may be a time consuming process with additional fee. Therefore it is better to store your naturalization certificate in a safe place.
Other Things to Do After Citizenship
As a US citizen, you can now do the following actions after completion of the oath ceremony.
Apply for a US Passport or a US Passport card: You must apply for a US passport or passport card as it will be a valid proof of your US citizenship if at all you lose your naturalization certificate. Only a US citizen is eligible to apply for a US passport book or passport card and will get an application for it in the welcome packet at the naturalization ceremony. Individuals who apply for a US passport book will have the following benefits:
- It serves as valid photo identification.
- It serves as a proof of US citizenship.
- It serves as a travel document and may be used for both domestic and international travel.
- It is much easier to carry when compared to a US naturalization certificate.
A US Passport card is a wallet sized card approved by Department of Homeland Security that can be used to enter United States from Mexico, Canada, Caribbean and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea crossings. It is a more convenient form of identity used within US and at certain land or sea ports of entry. However, the US passport card cannot be used for international travel by air but serves as an identification and proof of US citizenship. Individuals who apply for a US passport card will have the following benefits:
- It is more convenient when compared to the US passport book.
- It is less expensive.
- It is wallet sized.
- It is recognized at many land border and sea ports.
- It can be used in ready lanes at many land border crossings.
- It is a highly secured card that contains an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip.
Register to Vote: On becoming a US citizen, you will now be eligible to cast your vote during elections. Voting in federal elections is deemed as a right and responsibility of a US citizen. As a citizen, you help in shaping the future of the country by casting your vote. At your naturalization ceremony, you will have the opportunity to register to vote after you take the oath of allegiance. You will get an application which must be filled and submitted to an Election Official.
You can also register to vote at other locations such as driving motor vehicle offices, county board of elections, offices of your state Secretary of State and post offices.
Update the Social Security Administration (SSA) about your status: You may update the social security administration of your change in citizenship status by producing your certificate of naturalization or US passport. However, you must wait at least ten days after your naturalization ceremony before visiting the SSA to update your records. Benefits of updating your status at the social security administration are as follows:
- The social security database will now show you as a US citizen which will entitle you to future social security benefits. It will be easier for you to apply for benefits as your records reflect your correct status in the US. By updating your citizenship status, you will also be eligible to receive disability, retirement and other benefits depending on your state of residency.
- The social security database is shared with several agencies such as the federal agencies and state agencies. This way, your US citizenship status will be validated with federal and state agencies as well.
- Replacing your social security card will also be easier, now that your US citizenship status is updated in the social security records.