United States District Court, District of Columbia
L. FRIEDRICH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action, Plaintiff Benedict Akpan (“Akpan”)
petitions this Court to amend his certificate of
naturalization or compel the United States Citizenship and
Immigration Services (“USCIS”) to amend the
certificate. Before the Court is the Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss Plaintiff's Petition. Dkt. 10. For the reasons
that follow, the Court will grant the motion.
is a naturalized U.S. citizen who claims to have been born on
October 1, 1951, in Ekpene Ukim, Nigeria, although his
Nigerian passport and U.S. naturalization certificate
indicate that his date of birth is October 1, 1956. Pl.'s
Pet. to Amend Certificate of Naturalization
(“Pet.”) ¶¶ 8, 10, Dkt. 1. According to
Akpan, his Nigerian passport reflects an incorrect date of
birth because a family member, who is no longer alive, made a
mistake when submitting Akpan's application for a
Nigerian passport. Id. ¶¶ 8-9; see
also Pet. Ex. 3, Affidavit of Benedict Edet Akpan
(“Aff.”) ¶¶ 5, 9. Akpan claims that he
continued to assert the allegedly incorrect birthdate on his
1995 U.S. naturalization application because he thought that
his application was required to have the same date of birth
that was listed on his Nigerian passport. Pet. ¶ 14.
Although a full discussion of the facts alleged in
Akpan's petition is not necessary to resolve this motion,
some factual background is helpful to understand his claims.
1980, Akpan applied for a non-immigrant student visa to study
in the United States. Aff. ¶ 7. He also obtained-via a
now-deceased family member-a Nigerian passport with an
allegedly incorrect date of birth. Pet. ¶ 9; Aff. ¶
9. According to Akpan, he provided his correct date of birth
on his student visa application, and prior to his student
visa interview, he alerted U.S. consular officials to the
error on his Nigerian passport. Aff. ¶¶ 7-10. Akpan
claims, however, that U.S. consular officials instructed him
to accept a student visa with the incorrect date of birth,
travel to the United States on an incorrect Nigerian
passport, and fix the error when he returned to Nigeria after
the expiration of his non-immigrant student visa.
Id. ¶ 10. As a result, Akpan traveled to the
United States on a student visa that reflected that he was 24
years old, rather than 29 years old as he now claims to have
been at the time. See Id. ¶¶ 2, 10. In the
United States, Akpan attended West Virginia State College and
later transferred to Howard University. Id. ¶
completing his studies in the United States, Akpan did not
return to Nigeria immediately. Instead, he remained in the
United States without lawful immigration status from 1986 to
1988. Pet. ¶ 12. At some point between 1986 and 1988,
Akpan initiated proceedings to become a permanent resident of
the United States. See Id. ¶ 12; Aff. ¶ 3.
During that application process, he provided the date of
birth listed on his Nigerian passport. Pet. Ex. 2, ¶ 3.
Akpan was granted lawful permanent residency in 1988. Pet.
¶ 13. After becoming a permanent resident, Akpan
returned to Nigeria but did not correct the alleged error on
his passport. See Pet. Ex. 2, ¶ 3.
1990s, Akpan applied to become a naturalized citizen of the
United States using the same allegedly incorrect birthDated:
October 1, 1956. Akpan claims that he continued to use that
date of birth because “he thought that his
Naturalization application was required to have the same date
of birth that was listed on his Nigerian passport.”
Pet. ¶ 14. Akpan's application for citizenship was
successful, and in 1995, USCIS's predecessor, the
Immigration and Naturalization Service, issued Akpan a
naturalization certificate with the same allegedly incorrect
date of birth. Id. ¶ 15 & Ex. 5.
2014, nearly twenty years after Akpan become a naturalized
citizen, he took his first official step to correct the
alleged birthdate error on his naturalization certificate. He
submitted a Form N-565 (Application for Replacement
Naturalization Document) to USCIS, requesting that USCIS
issue him an amended naturalization certificate with a
different date of birth: October 1, 1951, which would make
him 66 years old today. Pet. Ex. 2. In a letter dated July 8,
2015, USCIS denied Akpan's request for an amended
naturalization certificate. Pet. ¶¶ 16-18 & Ex.
denial is the subject of this action, which Akpan brought on
February 7, 2017 against USCIS officials in their official
capacities: the Director of USCIS, the Director of the Texas
Service Center, and the Field Office Director of the
Baltimore District Office (together, the
“Defendants”). Pet. ¶¶ 3-5. Akpan's
petition requests that the Court amend his certificate of
naturalization or compel USCIS to amend the certificate.
Id. ¶¶ 1, 6. To establish his actual date
of birth, Akpan has attached as exhibits to his petition his
own declaration and affidavit, a baptismal certificate,
various school certificates, and an affidavit from a third
party. See Pet. Exs. 2-3, 4-8.
28, 2017, Defendants moved to dismiss Akpan's petition
for lack of jurisdiction, under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1), and for failure to state a claim, under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Defs.' Mot. to
Dismiss at 1, Dkt. 10.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), a party may move to
dismiss an action or claim when the court lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). A motion
for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) “presents a threshold
challenge to the court's jurisdiction.” Haase
v. Sessions, 835 F.2d 902, 906 (D.C. Cir. 1987). Federal
district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and it is
“presumed that a cause lies outside this limited
jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins.
Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Thus, the plaintiff bears
the burden of establishing jurisdiction by a preponderance of
the evidence. Moran v. U.S. Capitol Police Bd., 820
F.Supp.2d 48, 53 (D.D.C. 2011) (citing Lujan v. Defs. of
Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992)).
ruling on a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the court must treat the
plaintiff's factual allegations as true and afford the
plaintiff the benefit of all inferences that can be derived
from the facts alleged.” Jeong Seon Han v.
Lynch, 223 F.Supp.3d 95, 103 (D.D.C. 2016) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). Those factual
allegations, however, receive “closer scrutiny”
than they would in the Rule 12(b)(6) context. Id.
Also, unlike when evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court
may consider documents outside the pleadings to evaluate
whether it has jurisdiction. See Jerome Stevens Pharm.,
Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C. Cir. 2005). If
the court determines that it lacks jurisdiction, the court
must dismiss the claim or action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1),
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may move to
dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion, a 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) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Although
“detailed factual allegations” are not required,
a plaintiff must provide “more than an unadorned,
the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation, ”
id., and must “raise a right to relief above
the speculative level, ” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555. To state a facially plausible claim, the plaintiff must
plead “factual content that allows the court to draw
[a] reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. A complaint ...