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Naturalization Oath in Pomona

So my naturalization oath day finally arrived. It in Pomona, which is about 60 miles from here, and they said to arrive at 12:30. So I set off around 11, and arrived around12 (unusually clear traffic for LA). When you arrive it’s pretty much a case of follow the signs. There was a huge queue of cars at the gate (gate 17, not 14 as they listed on the note), and they charge $9 for parking.

Then just follow the streams of people into the fairground, it was quite a long walk (about half a mile total), and I’m glad it was not too hot.

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Then we are separated out into “Future Citizens” and “Family and Friends”. I joined the “Future Citizens” line (click any of these photos for big versions)

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Eventually we all get inside, there’s a bunch of tables where they take away your green card (gone forever!) and write a number on your appointment letter.

Then we were given small American flags and sat down, and waited for the ceremony to begin. This seems to take rather a long time, and I think we actually start around 1:30.

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That’s the last photo I took. If you look in the upper left you can see a small area for family and friends to view the ceremony. I think that space is very limited, crowded standing room only, and a lot of people ended up outside. The ceremony started with some calling to order (seing as how it was actually a court, with a Judge and all). Pretty much the first thing we did was stand a take the oath:

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.

This was done by the Judge reading it out a bit at a time, and everyone (3500 people) repeating it. This was not so simple, as the sound system was terrible, and it was hard to hear what he was saying, especially with words like “abjure” and “potentate” in there. Still, we got through it, and then everyone clapped and waved their flags.

Next someone gave a speech, which I think was about the history, honor, and responsibility of being an American citizen. Unfortunately I was only able to hear one word in ten.

Next they played us a video of Lee Greenwood singing “God bless the USA“, set to a montage of images of America – Steel Mills, Mountains, Birds, Oceans, People, etc. This seemed a little asecular to me, but what can you do.

We then pledge allegiance to the flag, sang the national anthem, and that was the ceremony over. We were shuffled back to the tables where we went the the table number we were given earlier to collect our certificates.

A that point you are done and can leave. But I chose to go and apply for a passport in the next building. This took another hour, with the long line. Plus they take away your certificate (will be mailed back later), and you are technically not allowed to make a copy of it, so you will be left without evidence of citizenship during that time, except for the reciept they give you, and the letters you had from earlier. Passports take 2-4 weeks, so although I’m a fully legal American citizen now (feels a bit odd writing that), the process is not quite over.

[Update: My passport arrived in three weeks, with the certificate mailed separately]

38 Comments


  1. //

    Hi, I’m scheduled for April 22. This article about your actual experience of the naturalization ceremony has been very helpful. I’m still contemplating whether I’ll bring my toddler, especially in this heat. I see in your photos though that it’s held in a covered building and not the outdoor fair grounds. Would you recommend bringing a baby?

    Thanks again.


  2. //

    I would NOT recommend bringing a baby. At least based on what I saw there was no provision for babies, and I did not remember seeing any.

    I suspect it might get hot in there in hotter weather, and then there is a half mile walk to the parking lot, where it will be incredibly hot. Combined with the long boring waiting in line and in the chair for two hours, it’s not the kind of place to bring a baby.


  3. //

    Hi, I am wondering if you did regular service and received your passport. If you received, how long did it take? and did you receive your naturalized certificate back along with your passport?


  4. //

    Well, I paid for expedited service (supposedly 2 weeks) – however the lady who took my form did not seem to be aware of it. So I think I might have got regular service. Anyway, it took three weeks for my passport to arrive. That seems in keeping with passport renewal times which are 2-4 weeks according to people I know.

    They sent back the certificate at the same time, in a separate envelope.


  5. //

    Hi, thanks for your very helpful post. I am scheduled for 5/28/09 in Pomona. On my letter though, it states that along with my green card to bring “any immigration documents you may have” and “re-entry permit or Refugee travel documnent(passport?)”. Also to answer questions on the back and that I may be questioned further on it. Do you get the same letter? What are immigration documents? Were you asked MORE questions? Thanks again for your help.


  6. //

    Lorie, I got the same letter. I took my UK passport along, as it had my last re-entry stamp. Obviously you should bring your green card. They did not ask to see any documents (not even the passport).

    The questions on the back are to see if anything has changed since your interview. If something has changed (like you got married, or were arrested), then I think they would need to see your documents. When I got there, they looked at the form and asked me the same questions (“Have you been arrested?”, etc).

    So, bring anything you think might be needed, just in case. However, it’s unlikely to be needed unless your circumstances have changed.


  7. //

    Thanks Mick. I will bring my Canadian passport and the letter they gave me at the interview, can’t think of anything else.

    Also-is there a lot of walking? My sister is disabled and can’t walk very far-should I rent a wheelchair? My appt is at 8AM-I’m coming from the SFV so will have to leave really early but what is the latest I should arrive?


  8. //

    There is quite a walk from the parking lot. About half a mile for me. But I think there was disabled parking a bit closer. There was a shuttle cart helping some people. Like the kind of thing you see in airport terminals.

    My appointment was for 12:30. Things started at around 1-1:30. If yours says 8 then I’d aim to arrive around 8, anticipating a 9AM start. 7:30 to be safe. Might have to wait a bit, but you don’t want to risk missing it because of traffic. It does take a while to go through the lines to get seated.


  9. //

    hi , I have a question.
    I just pass the citizenship interview on 05/19/2009
    how long is the wait for ceremony appointment letter to arrive & when will be the date to send my application for passport.
    can you share your experience about the time-line.
    I hate waiting.

    thx


  10. //

    haha, never mind , I just check out your Naturalization process section
    Duh, I should have done that before ask my question.
    it was vey clear & helpful.
    I guess I still have about 2 month to wait. if every thing goes smoothly.
    thx mike


  11. //

    Yup, it probably varies a bit though, I don’t know how often they have the ceremonies, so don’t worry if it takes a bit longer.

    You can do the passport application the same day, on-site. It took maybe an hour extra though. Take a checkbook and a pen and they will give you the form.


  12. //

    Hey Mick, great informative post. Got 2 questions:
    1. Were u allowed a photocopy of certificate before mailing the original at the ceremony for passport?
    2. How long did it take for the passport to arrive and did the original certificate or the passport arrived first in mail?
    Thanks


  13. //

    Sabrina,

    1) Technically and legally no – the certificate specifically says, in red type, you are not allowed to make a copy. However there is nothing physically to stop you taking a photo of it if you disregard this.

    2) Three weeks, they arrived separately on the same day.


  14. //

    i have kad y citizenshop test taken on 01/07/2009, and I have not heared anything from them. is that normal? can I check my stasus online?
    thanks


  15. //

    I got a letter after two week. Give it another week. I don’t think there is an online status, so you would have to call.


  16. //

    I had my test taken and i passed it but after that we got divorced before the oath, now i have to tell them that we got divorced, will i get my citizenship?
    Thank


  17. //

    I don’t know. I would recommend you ask an immigration attorney. It would probably depend on how long you have been married, and how long you have been in the country.


  18. //

    hi! im scheduled to go next month for oath taking. did they ask anything from you guests in order for them to get in like any identification?


  19. //

    Guests can’t get into the hall, only you. There was a separate area they went to at the side of the hall, where they could observe, but space was limited. Guests might not have a good time, based on what I saw.

    There’s nowhere that guests were asked for identification, as far as I know.


  20. //

    it is gonna be very helpful to me. thank you very much for your detail information about the ceremony process.


  21. //

    Thank you very much for your article and answers you have provided to concerned people like me. It helped a lot. Ceremony tomorrow on 2.25.11, just read the letter again and got scared by any immigration documents I may have, luckily I have found my answer in previous posts. Cheers.


  22. //

    Hi Mick, I’m Ina. Tom is my oath taking in POmona at 9:00am but says I have to come at 8:10am. Reading your posts, I have learned that kids aren’t advised to come but we have no choice but bring them along although I was thinking what if they just drop me off at the venue, do you think it’s alright? I mean, do you think it would be easy to locate me after the ceremony?

    Also, about the passport. What if I just apply for it at a local post office close to my place (Lakewood), is that permitted? ‘Coz during my interview at USCIS, I was told by my interviewer that passports are charged higher at the venue.

    Thanks!


  23. //

    The fairground is a pretty huge place though. I’m not sure where to drop people off. Everyone got funneled into a huge parking lot. Remember there are a LOT of people going, so there will be a lot of traffic, especially leaving.

    The ceremony is in the long building just to the north of the Sheraton hotel, which is in the south corner.

    Passports I think were the same price as at the post office, with an option for expedited service. HOWEVER, you may have to wait an hour in line. Still, it’s good to get it done. Just run over there as soon as possible.


  24. //

    Thanks a lot though, just got home from my oath. My husband and my two lil’ boys were able to go to the venue as well, didn’t stay at the parking. Also, I was just in time, a bit crowded already but I managed to walk faster leaving my husband and kids behind me then I didn’t apply for my passport there, the prices are still different though, the ones at the venue is higher and I am not rushing so I’ll take my time going to the local post office to get my passport there.
    But thanks again, atleast I got ideas by reading your post last night. Thank God I made it =)


  25. //

    Congratulations Ina.

    To clarify (a little late), people can certainly come into the venue in the sense of the Pomona Fairground complex (which is a huge fairground, with multiple buildings). It’s just not guaranteed that they will be able to get into the building where the ceremony is taking place. Either way there’s a point where citizens and applicants get separated.

    Anyway, glad it all worked out.


  26. //

    What is the name of the court in Pomona where the naturilization takes place?


  27. //

    I don’t know if it’s an actual named court. It happens at the fairground.
    But on the certificate it says “US DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT” at: “POMONA, CALIFORNIA”


  28. //

    Mick, if this is not too personal a question, why did you want to renounce your citizenship? Also, is it true that GB does not recognize renunciation and that you are still considered a British citizen?


  29. //

    Tiffany, it was never about renouncing UK citizenship – that’s purely ceremonial, and I’m still a UK citizen. It’s more that the US is my home now, my wife is American, and I’m probably going to live here the rest of my life.


  30. //

    Ahh, that makes sense, thanks.

    I am actually in much the same position. My husband is American and America has been my home for the last 11 years. My visa is due to expire in 2014 and our son will have to renew his next year when he turns 14. I’m getting to the point where I need to make this decision but I have been a little apprehensive. Thank you for sharing this journey, I have a feeling I might be referring to it over the next few months.


  31. //

    You’re welcome. It really was not too hard, although I was on a green card before, so might be bit more complex from a visa. Good luck!


  32. //

    Oops, I’m showing my ignorance by calling it a visa when it is in fact a permanent resident card. Thanks for wishing us luck! :)


  33. //

    hi mick will i have to bring 2 new photos in order to apply for the U.S passport @ my ceremony next week. Thanks


  34. //

    leroy, yes, it’s a standard passport application, so just like applying at the post office.


  35. //

    Thank you Mick, it very helpful.


  36. //

    When you check in at the table to give them the green card, did they actually ask you the question on the back of the Notice form, or just hand it to them? I have traveled outside of the US since the interview, should I bring the passport as supporting document?


  37. //

    It’s been a while, but as I remember they essentially asked if anything has changed. They really really have very little time for asking you much, there are hundreds of people in line. It’s pretty much assembly line, not a detailed interview.

    However, it can’t hurt to bring whatever documents you have. Just don’t offer them unless they need them.


  38. //

    Thanks. That’s very helpful !

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