Attachment to the Constitution
An applicant for naturalization must show that he or she has been, and continues to be, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the U.S., and “well disposed” to the good order and happiness of the U.S. Attachment is a stronger term than well disposed, and suggests a deeper belief which would lead to active support of the Constitution.
Attachment includes an understanding and willingness to be attached to the principles of the Constitution. An applicant who does not support the basic form of government of the U.S., or who does not believe in the principles of the Constitution, is not eligible for naturalization.
To be granted citizenship, naturalization applicants must take the Oath of Allegiance in a public ceremony. During the ceremony, applicants declare their attachment to the U.S. and the Constitution. Applicants must:
- Understand that he or she is taking the Oath freely.
- Understand that he or she is sincerely and absolutely renouncing any foreign allegiance.
- Understand that he or she is giving allegiance to the U.S., its Constitution, and laws.
- Understand that he or she is accepting all duties and obligations of citizenship including military and civil service when required by the law.
Modified Oath for Religious or Conscientious Objections
An applicant may request a modified oath that does not contain one of both of these clauses:
- To bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law.
- To perform noncombatant services in the U.S. armed forces when required by law.
In order to modify the oath, an applicant must demonstrate that he or she is unwilling or unable to affirm these clauses based on religious training and belief, which may include a deeply held moral belief or ethic code. Note that there is no exemption from the clause “to perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by law.”
In order for an applicant to qualify for a modification based on his or her religious training or belief, the applicant must establish that:
- 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, including 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.
Note that qualification for this exemption does not require membership in a particular religious group. However, the applicant must hold a sincere and meaningful belief that has a place in the applicant’s life which is equivalent to that of a religious belief.
An applicant may provide a statement from a religious organization, witness statement, or any other evidence to establish eligibility for the exemption. An applicant’s oral testimony or written statement may be sufficient to qualify. An officer may ask an applicant questions regarding the applicant’s belief in order to determine eligibility.
The most common oath modification we encounter at Project Citizenship is for clients who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. For these clients, we submit a letter from an elder of the client’s congregation, as well as an excerpt from the Watchtower, which explains the religion’s objections to service in the armed forces. Please find the excerpt and an example elder letter attached.