United States District Court, District of Columbia
S. CHUTKAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss the Complaint [ECF No. 5] and Plaintiff's Motion
for Court Appointed Counsel [ECF No. 8]. For the reasons
discussed below, the Court will GRANT Defendant's Motion
to Dismiss the Complaint and DENY Plaintiff's Motion for
Court Appointed Counsel as moot.
Adalaiti Shawuti entered the United States on May 6, 2008
(Compl. at 5 (page numbers designated by ECF)), and has been
a lawful permanent resident since March 6, 2011, id.
at 3; see Mem. in Support of Def.'s Mot. to
Dismiss Compl. (“Def.'s Mem.”), Ex. B
(Decision dated February 3, 2017) at 2. Plaintiff applied to
become a naturalized United States citizen on May 1, 2015, by
filing Form N-400. (Compl. at 3, 5). Defendant United States
Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”)
received her application on May 5, 2015. (Def.'s Mem.,
Ex. B at 2).
15 months passed without a response from USCIS. (Compl. at
6). On October 26, 2016, Plaintiff brought this action under
8 U.S.C. § 1447(b) to “demand that [her]
application be adjudicated as soon as possible.”
January 13, 2017, Plaintiff “appeared for an interview
to determine [her] eligibility status for naturalization,
” and on February 3, 2017, USCIS denied her application
During the interview and review of your application, the
Immigration Services Officer noted that you filed your
application for naturalization before you completed the
required 5-year residency requirement. In order to qualify
for naturalization under INA 316, you must have been a lawful
permanent resident for 5 years before filing your
application. Although USCIS permits applicants to file Form
N-400 up to 90 days before completion of the required period
of residence, you submitted your application on May 5, 2015.
This filing was not within the 90-day period. Unfortunately,
you are ineligible for naturalization at this time since you
did not meet the residency requirement at the time of filing
Form N-400. Therefore, USCIS denies your application for
Def.'s Mem., Ex. B at 2.
moves to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction on two grounds. First, USCIS addresses
Plaintiff's claim under 8 U.S.C. § 1447(b), which
requires that USCIS make a decision on an application for
naturalization “before the end of the 120-day period
after the date on which the examination is conducted, ”
and only then may “the applicant . . . apply to the
United States district court . . . for a hearing on the
matter.” 8 U.S.C. § 1447(b). “Section
1447(b) has been interpreted as vesting in federal district
courts exclusive jurisdiction when a naturalization applicant
has filed suit as a result of [the Department of Homeland
Security's] failure to adjudicate her application within
120 days of her examination.” Castracani v.
Chertoff, 377 F.Supp.2d 71, 73 (D.D.C. 2005) (citation
Plaintiff filed this civil action in October 2016, she had
not yet had an interview. Had the clock begun to run on
January 13, 2017, the date of her interview, then USCIS's
February 3, 2017 decision fell well within the 120-day
period. USCIS argues, and the court concurs, that in these
circumstances section “1447(b) did not apply to vest
this Court [with] subject matter jurisdiction over
[Plaintiff's] claims.” (Def.'s Mem. at 5).
USCIS argues that Plaintiff's claim is moot. (Def.'s
Mem. at 5-6). “Article III of the United States
Constitution empowers federal courts to entertain disputes
only when they are deemed to be ‘Cases' or
‘Controversies.'” United Motorcoach
Ass'n, Inc. v. Welbes, 614 F.Supp.2d 1, 8 (D.D.C.
2009) (quoting U.S. Const. art. III, § 2), aff'd
sub nom. United Motorcoach Ass'n v. Rogoff, No.
09-5211, 2009 WL 5125173 (D.C. Cir. Dec. 9, 2009).
“[A]n actual controversy must be extant at all stages
of review, not merely at the time the complaint is
filed.” Preiser v. Newkirk, 422 U.S. 395, 401
(1975). In other words, “throughout the litigation, the
plaintiff ‘must have suffered, or be threatened with,
an actual injury traceable to the defendant and likely to be
redressed by a favorable judicial decision.'”
Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 7 (1998) (quoting
Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477
(1990)). “A case becomes moot - and therefore no longer
a Case or Controversy for purposes of Article III - when the
issues presented are no longer live or the parties lack a
legally cognizable interest in the outcome.”
Already, LLC v. Nike, Inc., 568 U.S. 85, 91 (2013)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
brought this action to prod Defendant “to complete the
processing of [her] application [for naturalization] and make
a determination[.]” Compl. at 2. Here, USCIS'
denial of Plaintiff's application for naturalization
February 3, 2017, after she had filed her Complaint, rendered
her claim moot. Now that Defendant's challenged action
(or inaction) has occurred, the Court is without means
“to grant any effectual relief whatever to
[Plaintiff].” Del Monte Fresh Produce Co. v. United
States, 570 F.3d 316, 321 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted).
other criteria, an applicant for naturalization
“immediately preceding the date of filing [her]
application for naturalization [must have] resided
continuously, after being lawfully admitted for permanent
residence, within the United States for at least five
years[.]” 8 U.S.C. § 1427(a). Plaintiff is under
the mistaken impression that she was eligible to apply for
naturalization four years after obtaining legal permanent
resident status. (Pl.'s Opp'n at 2). She devotes her
Opposition to challenging the USCIS's decision itself and
does not address Defendant's arguments with respect to
subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff therefore has ...