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In re Trinh

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 5, 2015

In re TERESA TRINH, Petitioner,


MARIA-ELENA JAMES, Magistrate Judge.

Petitioner Teresa Trinh ("Petitioner") filed this action seeking an order permitting her to amend her naturalization certificate to reflect her true birth date. Mot. to Amend Naturalization Certificate, Dkt. No. 1 ("MTA"). Before the Court is Respondent United States Citizenship and Immigration Service's ("USCIS") Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Dkt. No. 6 ("MTD"). Petitioner has filed an Opposition to USCIS's Motion (Dkt. No. 12), and USCIS filed a Reply (Dkt. No. 13). As part of the briefing on USCIS's Motion to Dismiss, the parties have also addressed the substance of Petitioner's Motion to Amend her Naturalization Certificate. The Court finds these matters suitable for disposition without oral argument and VACATES the June 25, 2015 hearing. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b); Civil L.R. 7-1(b). Having considered the parties' positions, relevant legal authority, and the record in this case, the Court DENIES USCIS's Motion to Dismiss and GRANTS Petitioner's Motion to Amend for the reasons set forth below.


Petitioner was born in Vietnam. MTA at 3. As a child, she and her family fled the communist regime in Vietnam and escaped to a Malaysian refugee camp. Id. at 3-4. Petitioner and her family did not have any identification documents with them when they were forced to flee Vietnam. Id. at 4. Consequently, Petitioner did not have any written documentation confirming her date of birth at the time of her medical examination and refugee application with United States immigration authorities. Id. She was also unable to inform officials of her birthdate herself, as she did not have any indicators of her age. Id. Her parents never told her how old she was or celebrated her birthday, and school classes were not separated by age. Id.

In Malaysia, United States officials recorded Petitioner's birth year as 1966.[1] Id. Petitioner's parents have not explained how immigration authorities arrived at this date, though Petitioner alleges the date was the result of interactions between the United States government and her parents, not Petitioner herself. Id.

Petitioner reported her year of birth as 1966 when she applied for naturalization in 1985. Id. She became a naturalized United States citizen that same year, and her naturalization certificate also recorded her birth year as 1966. Id.; Ex. A (Pet'r's Naturalization Certificates). In 2009, [2] Petitioner's mother traveled to Vietnam and obtained a copy of Petitioner's birth certificate. MTA at 5. The birth certificate listed Petitioner's birth year as 1964, not 1966 as she had previously believed. Id. Petitioner alleges that this was the first time she learned her true birth date. Id.

Later in 2009, Petitioner filed a Form N 565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document, to replace her lost naturalization certificate and to correct her date of birth. Id. USCIS issued a new certificate but refused to amend the birth date. Id. Petitioner made another request for an amended naturalization certificate in November 2013, which USCIS denied in February 2014. Id. Petitioner then appealed to the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office. Id. Her appeal was denied on July 8, 2014. Id.

On December 10, 2014, Petitioner filed the present action with her Motion to Amend Naturalization Certificate to correct her birth year from 1966 to 1964. Dkt. No. 1. On January 13, 2015, USCIS filed its Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(1), on the ground that Petitioner has failed to meet her burden to establish that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction to amend her naturalization certificate. MTD at 1.


Federal district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction; "[t]hey possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute, which is not to be expanded by judicial decree." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994) (citation omitted). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) authorizes a party to move to dismiss a lawsuit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

A jurisdictional challenge may be facial or factual. Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). Where the attack is facial, the court determines whether the allegations contained in the complaint are sufficient on their face to invoke federal jurisdiction, accepting all material allegations in the complaint as true and construing them in favor of the party asserting jurisdiction. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975). Where the attack is factual, however, "the court need not presume the truthfulness of the plaintiff's allegations." Safe Air for Everyone, 373 F.3d at 1039. In resolving a factual dispute as to the existence of subject matter jurisdiction, a court may review extrinsic evidence beyond the complaint without converting a motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment. Id.; McCarthy v. United States, 850 F.2d 558, 560 (9th Cir. 1988) (holding that a court "may review any evidence, such as affidavits and testimony, to resolve factual disputes concerning the existence of jurisdiction.").

Once a party has moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), the opposing party bears the burden of establishing the Court's jurisdiction. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377; Chandler v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 598 F.3d 1115, 1122 (9th Cir. 2010).


USCIS argues the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this matter, and further that Petitioner cannot meet Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60's requirements to allow the Court to amend her naturalization certificate. ...

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