The Ninth Circuit court of Appeals in Gorbach v. Reno recently dealt a serious blow to thousands of individuals who may have obtained their Naturalization certificate by mistake or misrepresentation. The Ninth Circuit reversed the ruling of a Washington District Court Judge, which had held that the INS’ “administrative denaturalization” rules were unauthorized, and enjoined the INS from proceeding against any individual. While judicial review will be available to any individual who INS strips of his citizenship, it make take well over one year to battle the INS’ denaturalization effort through the administrative process.
The INS’ rule states that it may reopen a naturalization proceeding and revoke naturalization if it obtains “credible and probative evidence that (1) shows that the Service granted the naturalization by mistake; or (2) was not known to the service Officer during the original proceeding; and (i) would have had a material effect on the outcome of the original proceeding; and (ii) would have proven that (A) the Applicant’s application was based on fraud, misrepresentation or concealment of a material fact; or (B) the applicant was not, in fact, eligible for naturalization.”
The INS must issue a Notice of Intent To Revoke (NOIR) Naturalization within 2 years of the date naturalization was granted, if it believes that the above conditions exist. Once an individual receives an NOIR, the individual must respond within sixty days, otherwise, the allegations in the NOIR are deemed admitted. If the individual rebuts the INS allegations, the INS will make a decision. The case will be referred for judicial proceedings if any material issues of fact exist as to the individual’s eligibility for naturalization. The individual whose naturalization is on the line must raise these issues of fact in rebuttal to the NOIR, or risk losing everything.
In the event the INS’ decision shows no issues of material fact, the INS may issue a revocation instantly.
At present, some 4000 cases will be affected immediately. The INS issued NOIRs against most of these individuals, but the rebuttals have been held in limbo pending the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Gorbach. Should the INS elect to proceed against these individuals, they will be permitted to present their defenses in the reopened naturalization proceedings.