The citizenship (or naturalization) interview typically includes several distinct parts. Each immigration officer seems to handle the interview in their own way. But the components of a typical interview include (a) a review of the N-400 application, (b) the English exam, which consists of reading a sentence in English and writing another sentence in English, (c) the civics exam, in which the naturalization applicant is asked a series of civic questions and required to get six correct out of ten, and, (d) finally, a discussion of the oath of allegiance.
We have had more than one person come to our office because they were not prepared to discuss the oath of allegiance at their interview. Because of that inability to explain what the oath means, they were sent home emptyhanded and told that they would have one more chance to explain to the officer at a later date what the oath means and to state without reservation that they agree to take the oath.
This is important because every naturalization applicant is asked at the ceremony to take the oath. Here is how we explain the oath to our clients.
We ask our clients to think of the oath as The Past, The Present & The Future. For The Past, the person is promising to give up their allegiance to their home country. They have to renounce their devotion to their old country. For The Present, the applicant states their willingness to take the oath and to become an American, with all of the rights and responsibilities that this promise entails. Finally, for The Future, the applicant promises that if the country needs them in the future, either in the military or in doing civilian work of national importance, that the applicant will be there for the United States.
Different officers have different expectations regarding the oath. Some simply ask, "have you read the oath and do you agree to take the oath?" Others ask, "explain the oath to me in your own words?" Still others actually have the applicant read the oath out loud and then explain in their own words what the oath actually means.
If you've been tripped up by the oath obligation or if you would like us to help explain to you how the oath is discussed at most naturalization interviews, please give us a call or reach out to us on our contact page.