What Happens at US Citizenship Ceremonies


If you are an immigrant hoping to apply for US citizenship, you may already have heard of US citizenship ceremonies or even attended or seen such a ceremony. Naturalization ceremonies, as they are also known, are an important part of the US immigration process and they are the final step to take before becoming a US Citizen . After submitting an application for US citizenship, an immigrant needs to pass a US citizenship interview and exam, which evaluates knowledge of English and US civics. If the applicant passes the interview and exam and is shown to be qualified and accepted for US citizenship, the applicant is then invited to one of the many US citizenship ceremonies held around the US each year. Here, the applicant gathers with other applicants and officially becomes a US citizen.

US citizenship ceremonies can be elaborate or simple, depending on sponsorship and location. For example, each year the US holds special citizenship ceremonies for the 4th of July and these can be quite elaborate as they celebrate Independence Day as well as US citizenship. Throughout the year, simple ceremonies may also be held in courtrooms.

At most ceremonies, family and friends of applicants, as well as the general public, are allowed to attend and witness the ceremony. Again, this may vary, and usually depends on space available. Most ceremonies begin when a USCIS official offers a “Motion for Admission of Applicants for Naturalization” and the judge overseeing the ceremony accepts the motion. Applicants take the citizenship oath and pledge allegiance to the US flag.

At most US citizenship ceremonies, there is a guest speaker, who addresses the attendees and speaks about citizenship. This guest speaker may be an official from the government, a local personality, a citizenship applicant, or someone else. At some ceremonies, there are several speakers. Once the speeches are completed, usually a list of countries is read aloud and the nationals from each country are asked to stand as their country is read out loud.

Petitions are then US citizens and are usually given kits for “new citizens.” These kits contain information about being a US citizen, a small US flag, a copy of the US Constitution, and a registration form for voting (since new US citizens can vote in the US for the first time). Some ceremonies include a reception after the ceremony itself and musical entertainment. From beginning to end, such ceremonies usually take between one and a half to two hours.