Citizenship/Naturalization, Family Immigration, Naturalization

Modifying oath for new U.S. Citizens based on religious objection to bearing arms

Can I modify my oath based on religion when I become a US Citizen? I do not believe in bearing arms.

Yes, you are allowed to modify parts of your oath of allegiance based on your sincere, meaningful, and deeply held religious principles against bearing arms or serving in non-combatant military services. Modifying the naturalization oath is a serious decision allowed in some situations. Make sure you fully understand, or talk with an attorney about the oath and your reasons for requesting a modification before making your final decision: 

What is the Oath of Allegiance and who must take it?

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a person applying for naturalization must take an oath of allegiance before becoming a US citizen.

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law*; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

*blue text shows the section that may be modified

Which parts of the oath can be modified based on religion?
An applicant may request a modification to the oath based on his or her sincere, meaningful, and deeply-held religious principles. There are two sections of the oath which can be modified based on religious beliefs:
• Bearing arms on behalf of the US if required by law
• Performing noncombatant service in the US armed forces when required by law (noncombatant service includes duties like combat medics and military chaplains)

How does an applicant waive sections of the oath?
Naturalization applications mark their intent to waive these two sections of the oath on the N-400 form. The law requires that applicants must show opposition based on religious training and deeply held moral or ethical code. Usually this is shown through evidence submitted along with the application. I help my clients provide a signed statement explaining their deeply-held religious beliefs. We also sometimes include a baptismal certificate or an attestation from a religious organization.

What are the requirements I need to show?
There is a three-part test for an applicant to qualify for an oath modification based on religious training and belief. The applicant must show:

•He or she is opposed to bearing arms in the armed forces or opposed to any type of Service in the armed forces;

•The objection is grounded in his or her religious principles, to include other belief systems similar to traditional religion or a deeply held moral or ethical code; and

•His or her beliefs are sincere, meaningful, and deeply held.

What will the USCIS officer ask during the interview regarding the requested modifications?
The officer will ask about the objection, and about religious principles. Applicants may be asked about whether they have studied religion at home, or with an organization, and whether an organization, self-contemplation, or study helped form these beliefs.. Applicants can also be asked about participation in religious activities.

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