2 Phrases That New Americans No Longer Have to Utter in Citizenship Oath Has Critics Fuming

Hundreds of thousands of foreign-born people become American citizens every year. But going forward, individuals who take the Oath of Allegiance as part of the citizenship ceremony will no longer be required to include these phrases:

  • “bear arms on behalf of the United States”
  • “perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States”

The Obama administration announced the changes earlier this week. The Department of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says that citizens-to-be can omit those phrases under these certain conditions:

  • May be eligible for modifications based on religious training and belief, or conscientious objection arising from a deeply held moral or ethical code.
  • Is not required to belong to a specific church or religion, follow a particular theology or belief, or to have had religious training in order to qualify.
  • May submit, but is not required to provide, an attestation from a religious or other type of organization, as well as other evidence to establish eligibility.

Some people are baffled by the government’s decision. U.S. Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer told “Fox and Friends”:

“How can you come to this country and not be willing to fight for it? What is this administration thinking?”

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was even more direct with his criticism. The Republican presidential candidate told Breitbart News:

“I think the President needs to fire the director immediately…. Let’s be honest here, immigration without assimilation is invasion.”

Here’s the full text of the Oath of Allegiance, with the now-optional phrases in bold:

“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.”

Ironically, a foreign national can still become eligible for U.S. citizenship if he or she serves in the U.S. armed forces.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will accept feedback on the change through August 4.


Type of Document
for Comment
Title of Document Related Documents Opening/Closing
Dates for Comment
Effective Date of Policy
USCIS Policy Manual Volume 12, Part J: Modified Oath Policy Alert July 21, 2015 – August 4, 2015 July 21, 2015

Comment Submission Process
Please email all comments to ope.feedback@uscis.dhs.gov.  Please include the following to make your comments clear:

  • State the title of the relevant volume and section in the subject line of your message;
  • Refer to a specific portion of the document;
  • Explain the reason for any recommended change; and
  • Include data, information, or authority that supports the recommendation.

You must submit your comments before the closing date noted in the table above. USCIS may distribute any comments received (including any personal information and contact information) on its public website or to those who request copies. By providing comments, you consent to their use and consideration by USCIS, and you acknowledge that your comments may become public.


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