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Kaya v. Curda

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 7, 2017

GOKHAN KAYA, Plaintiff,




         On November 25, 2016, Plaintiff Gokhan Kaya filed a Petition for Review of the Denial of his Application for Naturalization. (ECF No. 1.) Kaya sought the district court's review after the California District Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) denied his application for naturalization. (See id.) On February 13, 2017, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted.[1] (ECF No. 17.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS the motion and dismisses the case.


         Kaya is a citizen of Turkey. (Petition ¶ 4.) On June 30, 2010, he married a United States citizen, and he became a conditional resident of the United States on March 7, 2011. (Id. at ¶¶ 4, 10.) He then received lawful permanent resident status on April 28, 2013. (Id. at ¶ 16.) The next year, in September 2014, Kaya separated from his wife and moved out of their shared apartment, and in October 2015, his wife filed for divorce. (Id. at ¶ 17.) The dissolution of the marriage became final on January 13, 2017. (See Mot. 4-5; Opp'n 2.)[2]

         Kaya submitted a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization on May 27, 2014, a few months before he and his wife began experiencing marital difficulties. (See Petition ¶ 17.) His application cited 8 U.S.C. § 1430(a) as the basis for his eligibility for naturalization. (See id.; Ex. 7, ECF No. 1-7.) Section 1430(a) provides an avenue for expedited naturalization for applicants whose spouse is a citizen of the United States: applicants in such a position can be naturalized after three years of lawful permanent residence. Without a basis for expedited naturalization such as 1430(a), the default residency requirement prior to naturalization is five years of lawful permanent resident status. See 8 U.S.C. § 1427(a).


         An applicant for naturalization bears the burden of showing eligibility for citizenship. Berenyi v. Dist. Dir., Immigration and Naturalization Serv., 385 U.S. 630, 636-637 (1967). “[D]oubts [about eligibility] should be resolved in favor of the United States and against the claimant.” U.S. v. Macintosh, 283 U.S. 605, 626 (1931).

         On a motion to dismiss, a court may dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for lack of a cognizable legal theory or insufficient facts pleaded to support an otherwise cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). To survive a dismissal motion, a complaint need only satisfy the minimal notice pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2)-a short and plain statement of the claim. Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483, 494 (9th Cir. 2003). The factual “allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). That is, the complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         The determination of whether a complaint satisfies the plausibility standard is a “context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679. A court is generally limited to the pleadings and must construe all “factual allegations set forth in the complaint . . . as true and . . . in the light most favorable” to the plaintiff. Lee v. City of L.A., 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001). But a court need not blindly accept conclusory allegations, unwarranted deductions of fact, and unreasonable inferences. Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).

         Generally, a court should freely give leave to amend a complaint that has been dismissed, even if not requested by the party. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). However, a court may deny leave to amend when it “determines that the allegation of other facts consistent with the challenged pleading could not possibly cure the deficiency.” Schreiber Distrib. Co. v. Serv-Well Furniture Co., 806 F.2d 1393, 1401 (9th Cir. 1986).


         Kaya's Petition asks for naturalization on two bases: either § 1430(a), given that he was married to a United States citizen at the time of submitting his application for naturalization, or § 1427, because he now satisfies the five-year residency requirement as a lawful permanent resident. (See generally Petition.) Defendants argue that the allegations Kaya pleads in his Petition do not give rise to a claim for naturalization under either statute. (See Mot.) The Court agrees with Defendants: even after viewing all of the facts in the light most favorable to Kaya, his claim is not viable and cannot survive Defendants' motion to dismiss.

         A. ...

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