What happens at the citizenship oath ceremony?
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In your journey to become an American citizen, you will file the USCIS Form N400 paperwork, provide documentary evidence for your application, get fingerprinted, pass the naturalization test, and if all goes well, you will be asked to take the oath to become a citizen (until you do this, you are not a citizen). While in some cases, you can take the oath right after the interview in a conference room, but in most cases, mass oath taking ceremonies are held with hundreds or thousands of applicants, often in historic places. There have been ceremonies held even in The White House or US Navy ships or other historical government buildings. So if you have an option, choose these events. They provide a cool ending to your journey and create great memories. The best part is that to these ceremonies you can bring your family along, though, they may not sit right next to you while you take the oath, but they can either watch you from a distance or see it on large screens.
What to expect at the oath ceremony location? You will be told about the location ahead of time so do your research. That way you can plan for traffic and parking. Again if it is far from your home, plan on spending the night in a hotel. Since this is considered to be an official Federal Government event, you are expected to dress formally. It is a great idea for men to wear suits and formal daytime attire for women, like business suits or dresses.
Plan on spending the whole day there but most likely it will be several hours. Be prepared for lots of waiting, some times separate from your family, so bringing a paper book is a great idea. Depending on the location, electronics of any kind, even cell phones can be a problem.
What happens during the oath ceremony? Follow the instructions in your letter, and bring the documentation that you were given after the naturalization interview. At this time, your green card will also serve as your ID, though, it is still a good idea to have your native country passport with you. The oath ceremony itself may include speeches by VIPs and finally an oath. Once that is done, you will line up to surrender your permanent resident card and collect your naturalization certificate. If you also changed your name during naturalization, you will receive the paperwork from the court related to that. Hopefully, everything will be fine, but you should make sure that all the details on the document are accurate, and if not, speak to an officer then and there and they will tell you what to do to make a correction. Then you are free to leave and you will now officially be an American citizen.
How to get a US Passport? At most oath ceremonies, officers from the Department of State are also present and they hand out passport applications. Make sure you pick one and file an application as soon as possible. You will need to submit your original naturalization certificate with your passport application so before mailing it out, make a photo copy just in case it gets misplaced. The process of getting the passport and the passport card is really straightforward because you are no longer treated as an immigrant by the USCIS but are now being treated like an American by the Department of State.