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I wonder what the proper dress code is, if any, for the US citizenship oath ceremony.

I read on https://www.boundless.com/immigration-resources/us-citizenship-oath-of-allegiance-ceremony/:

USCIS instructs all applicants to dress in attire that “respects the dignity” of the Oath of Allegiance ceremony. The agency specifically prohibits wearing jeans, shorts, and flip flops.

I've read this claim on quite a few other websites that weren't US governmental websites. However I can't find the source of that claim, and looking at some US citizenship oath ceremony videos I do see people in jeans, e.g. https://youtu.be/HRNY9Mt7KDg?t=75:

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I would like to know before the interview, as the US citizenship oath ceremony may happen the same day as the interview. Maybe it depends on the USCIS field office? or the no-jeans/shorts/flip flops instructions are incorrect or out-of-date?

The N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony only states:

USCIS asks that you dress in proper attire to respect the dignity of this event.

But doesn't explicit allow or ban specific cloth types. As a result, I wonder what the previous quote "The agency specifically prohibits wearing jeans, shorts, and flip flops." is referring to.

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    Is there some reason you'd particularly like to wear jeans, shorts, or flip flops to your naturalization ceremony?
    – phoog
    Apr 10 at 6:39
  • @phoog I only have jeans and t-shirts, so I'm trying to assess if I need to buy/rent/borrow some other clothes. I do have some shoes though. Apr 10 at 6:52

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The US government, as you'll learn as part of your preparation for the civics tests, has very little say in how you can express yourself, and that includes clothing. Unless you show up half (or fully...) naked, or something that is clearly and explicitly offensive to others, it's hard for me to imagine you being denied your ceremony.

That said, your goal is to complete the ceremony, not to find a cause for a SCOTUS case (unless you're looking for a job on Fox News that is). So you should dress respectfully for the occasion. I wouldn't (and didn't) rent any special clothing. It wouldn't hurt to have at least one suit hanging in your closet, though, if you live in the US, Americans can be uptight about attire in some settings way more than Europeans.

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The form's dated 2014. It might be out of date, or its provisions inconsistently enforced.

OTOH, if you guess wrong, they might pull you out of line and say "Sorry, inappropriate attire."

If you want to take the oath, why would you risk an argument or objection at the last minute? Just wear a nice shirt and pair of pants and shoes and you'll be fine whatever they do.

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If funds are limited, go with the nicest clothes you can afford. Thrift shops can have some spectacular bargains.

I'll approach this from the point of view of feeling emotionally comfortable rather than what's allowed. The typical interaction between ordinary folks (including immigrants) and government officials involves the ordinary folks wearing worn, faded jeans and T-shrits, while the officials are wearing at least collared shirts and slacks in good condition (or a skirt). If the event is in a courtroom, the government officials are probably wearing suits (except the judge, who wears a robe).

This creates an atmosphere where the government officials are in charge and the ordinary folks are being herded around.

But if the ordinary folks wear the same clothes as the officials, it creates more of a peer-to-peer feeling, where the ordinary folks are there to claim the benefits they're entitled to, and the officials are there to serve their needs.

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Reddit user Sori-Eminia pointed me to the USCIS Guide to Naturalization (M-476), which states on page 38:

The naturalization ceremony is a solumn and meaningful event. Please dress in proper attire to respect the dignity of this event (please no jeans, shorts, or flip flops).

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