New USCIS policy lets naturalized citizens opt out of protecting U.S.

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WASHINGTON – Effective July 21, new guidance, updating Volume 12 of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Policy Manual, clarified the eligibility requirements for modifications to the Oath of Allegiance, the recital of which is part of the naturalization process.

Those becoming naturalized take an oath declaring they will “bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law” and “perform noncombat service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by law.”

However, now USCIS states a candidate for naturalization may be eligible to “exclude these two clauses based on religious training and belief or a conscientious objection.”

According to the new updated guidance, a candidate “[m]ay be eligible for modifications based on religious training and belief, or conscientious objection arising from a deeply held moral or ethical code.”

The candidate for citizenship is not required to belong to any specific church or religion, follow a particular theology of belief, or have any religious training in order to qualify.

And, according to USCIS’s new guidance, the candidate “[m]ay 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.”

Visit for information on how to provide feedback on revised guidance policies.

The closing date for comments regarding this policy change is Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015.

Email comments to and include the following information:

State “USCIS Policy Manual Volume 12, Part J: Modified Oath” 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.

USCIS states it may distribute comments received, including any personal and contact information, on its public website or to those who request copies.

It also states, “By providing comments, you consent to their use and consideration by USCIS, and you acknowledge that your comments may become public.”

That particular disclaimer would certainly discourage many from submitting comments.

In April 2010, USCIS said it ‘embarked on an unprecedented and comprehensive initiative to examine the agency’s adjudication and customer service guidance and policies.’

It says that review effort was completed with participation of the “USCIS workforce, federal partners, our customers and stakeholders, and the general public.”

So, it appears foreign nationals, immigration organizations, businesses, the international community and others, participate in helping shape our country’s admission and benefit policies, as USCIS “strives to secure America’s promise as a nation of immigrants.”

According to USCIS, the USCIS Policy Manual will ultimately replace the “Adjudicator’s Field Manual, the USCIS Immigration Policy Memoranda site and other policy repositories.”

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