- Congress is given the authority to set the rules of naturalization in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Even so, the procedure was left largely to the states' discretion until the early 1920s, when the federal government began standardizing the process. The applicant had to perform an oath of allegiance before a court of record, and the content of each oath varied greatly. In 1929, the current text was officially adopted for use in all cases.
Text of Oath
- The text of the oath is as follows: "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."
Modifications to Oath
- Several sections of the oath may be modified upon request and proof of necessity. These requests are generally based upon religious beliefs. The most common requests for modification involve the sections about taking up arms or serving in the military and the phrase "so help me God." These will be omitted when the candidate takes the oath. Additionally, even the phrase "on oath" may be an issue, so for those candidates the words "solemnly affirm" are substituted.
- Once candidates have completed all the required steps for naturalization, the only thing remaining is to take the oath at the ceremony. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service sends a notice to candidates with the time and place for the ceremony. Candidates check in and turn in their permanent resident card. If more than a day has passed since the final interview, the candidate will be required to answer several questions about recent activities. The candidate then takes the oath and receives the certificate of citizenship.