The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced on Friday, September 13th, 2019 that it would celebrate Constitution and Citizenship Day by welcoming nearly 34,300 new U.S. citizens. The naturalization celebration, taking place between the 13th and 23rd September, included 316 ceremonies across different states in the nation. Each year, 650,000 to 750,000 new citizens are welcomed by the USCIS. That is approximately 2,000 new citizens per day. In 2018, a total of 756,000 people were naturalized by USCIS, which was a five-year high in new citizens.
This year’s activities also featured a naturalization ceremony at the DAR Constitution Hall on September 17th. There, the USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli administered the Oath of Allegiance and give congratulatory remarks to 1,000 new citizens. The Constitution Week-themed naturalization ceremonies were live in different cities.
The Significance of the Ceremony
The commemoration was to honor both the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787 (232 years ago), and the observance of “I Am an American Day”, that began in 1940. According to Acting Director Cuccinelli, as the Constitution is being celebrated, “it is important to underscore the significance of citizens’ responsibilities for protecting and defending the Constitution.”
What You Need to Know About Citizenship Day and Constitution Week
Citizenship Day began 67 years ago in 1952 based on a law signed by President Harry Truman. Constitution Week was instituted by President Dwight Eisenhower three years later in 1955. According to the USCIS, this time of year serves as an opportunity to celebrate the connection between the Constitution and citizenship and also to reflect on what it means to become a U.S. citizen.
What is the Oath of Allegiance?
The Oath of Allegiance to the United States is an oath that must be taken and adhered to by a lawful permanent resident who wishes to become a U.S. citizen by naturalization. You will have to acknowledge the duty of allegiance and swear loyalty to this country. You will be required to recite a sworn declaration during the official ceremony. It is a mandatory requirement that must be undergone to complete your naturalization process, as you are not recognized by law as a U.S. citizen until you have taken the Oath of Allegiance. Here are the steps for the naturalization oath of allegiance process:
Check In at the Ceremony
Once you arrive at the venue, an officer will check you in and review your N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony and also review your responses to the questionnaire, which is on the back of the N-445. You may also be given some materials such as an American flag, a U.S. Citizenship Welcome Packet (including the President’s Congratulatory Letter), an M-76 form, a Citizen’s Almanac, and a pocket-sized Declaration of Independence and copy of the Constitution of the United States.
Return Your Green Card
You will then be asked to return your Permanent Resident Card. This is mandatory for every new citizen. The only ground which this could be waived is if you provided proof during naturalization interview that the card had been lost and you have attempted to recover it. It may also be waived if you were never granted permanent residence and are becoming a citizen because of your military service.
The activities preceding the Oath of Allegiance may also include music or video presentation, and opening remarks from the master of ceremonies. After this, you will take the Oath along with other participants scheduled for the same date,
Take the Oath of Allegiance
The Oath will be taken before a USCIS official. You will be instructed to stand, raise your right hand and recite the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance.
As you take the Oath, you must promise to fulfill the following substances of the declaration:
- Support the U.S. Constitution and other laws of the United States against all her enemies, foreign or domestic;
- Renounce and abjure absolutely all allegiance to any other sovereign nation;
- Be ready to provide military or civilian service whenever you are called upon as required by law
Receive Your Certificate of Naturalization
The Oath will be followed by the presentation of your Certificate of Naturalization as a confirmation of your citizenship status. Carefully review your certificate and notify USCIS officials of any errors before leaving the ceremony.
Apply for a U.S. Passport/Passport Card
The USCIS strongly recommends that you apply for a U.S. passport, which is another proof of citizenship, through the Department of State (DOS) soon after you take the Oath. It is also important to allow sufficient time between your naturalization and any planned travel to receive your passport.