What’s going to happen with oath ceremonies now that the Coronavirus has hit?
Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St Louis, Missouri. We have a lot of people who have been waiting for their oath ceremonies to get sworn in as US citizens during the Coronavirus and the shutdown at USCIS.
Now USCIS is announcing that they’re going to reopen soon and we thought we’d make this video to give you our thoughts on what we think is going to happen with oath ceremonies. Now, as an aside, one thing that was really interesting for us is that we had a client actually naturalized during the Coronavirus. So this was a fellow that we had filed a lawsuit for in the Western district of Pennsylvania.
He had been waiting for the Pittsburgh Field Office to give them his citizenship.
They were screwing around with him saying that he might not be eligible.
We filed a lawsuit.
They changed their mind.
They approved him for naturalization. And in fact, they had him come to USCIS in Pittsburgh and they swore him in as a US citizen during the Coronavirus, during the closure at USCIS. But putting that to the side, because that was an unusual case where the lawsuit was already on file before the Coronavirus.
There’s now this huge backlog of naturalization cases. And in the old days, what they would normally do is they would just schedule some massive ceremonies. They would have 500 or 1,000 or 1,500 people all come to some kind of small arena or university, and they just swear everybody in en masse in a big group.
But of course right now that’s the one thing they can’t be doing. They can’t be scheduling people for big oath ceremonies in big groups.
So what do we think’s going to happen? Well, a couple of things I think.
So as many of you may know, in the old days, the federal courts were in charge of naturalization. Now due to statutory changes that has changed and the USCIS has been given a lot more authority to conduct these ceremonies themselves.
So in a lot of cities, big cities like Atlanta, Minneapolis are a few that I can think of off the top of my head, if you go to your naturalization interview and you pass and your background check is complete, they’ll swear you in that very day of your ceremony. In other places, like here in st Louis and other places, you have to actually get sworn in by a federal judge.
And of course, whenever you change your name, you have to get sworn in by a federal judge. So there are now these huge backlogs in the federal courts and at USCIS with naturalization ceremonies.
I think that for the cities where there are naturalization ceremonies done administratively, that is at USCIS, I think they’ll figure out a way to do these one at a time relatively quickly where people will just be brought in one, two, three, four, they’ll line them up, they’ll space them out, they’ll do social distancing and they’ll clear that backlog once they get their systems back up and running.
For the people in judicial branches or judicial places where the judges have to swear you in, I think you’re going to see a situation more where they aren’t going to have big oath ceremonies, but they will just have a docket and they’ll clear people out with a judge.
One judge will sign up for a day or a morning and they’ll just knock out people every five minutes, sort of like those very fast marriages at county courthouses. So we think that’s what’s going to happen.
We think you’ll see cases start to move. If you have questions about naturalization or about the oath ceremony, give us a call at (314)-961-8200. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. And if you liked this video, we ask that you please share it out on social so that you get updates whenever we make videos just like this one. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.