Congratulations! You finally made it to the last stage of the naturalization process.
You’ve gotten your notice about your upcoming oath ceremony, but you may have one important question that USCIS has failed to answer:
Who can come with you to your U.S. citizenship oath ceremony?
There is no hard and fast rule or guidance on the issue. In most cases, it will depend greatly on the location and venue of the ceremony itself.
For this reason, who you choose to bring is a personal decision.
Below, we’ll list a few points to consider when you’re choosing who to bring to your oath ceremony.
How Many Guests Can I Bring?
This is a hard question to answer. As stated above, the actual number of guests you can bring will vary depending on the capacity of the venue itself.
Further, USCIS has not set any guidelines on the matter, so the final number often comes down to the person in charge of that specific ceremony.
For instance, the fire code may limit the number of people allowed in the room.
If the number of people taking the oath is close to the maximum number of people allowed in the room, then your guest may not be allowed into the ceremony.
They will have to wait outside, or watch the ceremony via a broadcast if one is available.
Even in cases where the venue doesn’t limit the number of guests you can bring, you may still want to limit the number of people you invite out of fairness to others who are attending the ceremony.
For example, while some venues may be able to hold a large number of people, some guests may still have to stand at the back of the room.
While this may not be an issue for an able-bodied adult, this may become a problem for children or the elderly.
Remember, the oath ceremony will take a long time, usually around an hour or more.
If everyone brings between 0-3 people, the number of people required to stand or to not be admitted will be greatly limited.
Who Should I Bring?
Generally speaking, anyone can come to your U.S. citizenship oath ceremony: family, friends, children, and even complete strangers.
While I wouldn’t advise inviting strangers off the street, it’s your big day; celebrate with whomever you want.
There are, however, some considerations you will want to take into account when choosing who to invite.
Considerations for Bringing Children
The naturalization oath ceremony is a long process and is probably not the best environment for children.
During the ceremony, children may become bored, hungry, or disruptive.
If it is at all possible, you should consider leaving the children at home.
After all, you wouldn’t want your children to become unsettled and disrupt the entire ceremony for you and the other attendees.
Considerations for Bringing Elderly or Disabled Individuals
Again, not all locations will have ample room for both attendees and their guest to sit.
If you are considering inviting an elderly or disabled person, you will want to make sure they understand that they may have to stand for a significant period of time if no one is kind enough to offer them their seat.
Considerations for Minors
If you are a minor, you will certainly want to bring at least one parent with you to your ceremony—especially if you need a ride.
The Best Advice: Call
USCIS will ensure that you will be admitted, but they may not guarantee that your guests will.
If you are planning to bring a lot of guests, or a guest who needs accommodations, you should first call USCIS and see if they have any guidance on what the venue is like, as well as whether there are any limitations on guests.
What Can I Do for Guests who Can’t Attend My Oath Ceremony?
If you have guests that want to come but cannot, see if you can find another way for them to celebrate with you on this special day.
For example, consider celebrating with them before or after the ceremony.
As an alternative, you could also have someone who does attend take pictures or videotape the event so you can share it with those who could not come.
If no one comes with you, consider asking someone else’s guest if they would mind sending you a copy of their tapes or pictures.
You did it! We’re happy for you, and are proud to welcome you to our great country’s citizenry.
Don’t let this final step in the naturalization process stress you out. It’s a day dedicated to you; you’ve already been through the hard part.