To become a naturalized US Citizen, it is during the naturalization interview when an applicant signs the naturalization application to acknowledge the applicant’s willingness and ability to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States above all other countries. Specifically, the applicant must demonstrate, by clear and convincing evidence, that the applicant is unwilling or unable to affirm one or both of the following clauses by reason of religious training and a belief or deeply held moral or ethical code: 1) to bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law, or 2) to perform noncombatant service in the U.S. armed forces when required by law.
However, the applicant must have a sincere and meaningful belief that has a place in the applicant’s life that is equivalent to that of a religious belief. An immigration officer must not question the validity of what an applicant believes or the existence or truth of the concepts in which the applicant believes. To ensure applicants have the opportunity to express their sincere and meaningful beliefs. USCIS is clarifying its process regarding circumstances where an applicant expresses a desire for an oath modification. Going forward, the naturalization interview, an applicant signs the naturalization application to acknowledge the applicant’s willingness and ability to take the Oath of Allegiance.
Now, added clarity exists on how an applicant may be eligible for a modification of the oath based on those certain beliefs, namely religious, moral, or ethical beliefs. Qualification for the modification is not dependent upon membership in a particular religious group, nor does membership in a specific religious group provide an automatic modification to the oath.
The new Oath of Allegiance Policy clarifies requirements from USCIS interviewing Officers: a) Clarifies that officers should not conclude that an applicant is ineligible for the oath modification if the applicant fails to provide oral testimony or other evidence at the interview; and b) Clarifies that if a naturalization applicant expresses a desire for a modification of the Oath of Allegiance during the naturalization interview but does not provide any oral testimony or other evidence to qualify for such modification, the officer should issue a Request for Evidence to provide the applicant an opportunity to provide testimony, a statement, or submit evidence to establish eligibility for such modification.