Kouanchao v. USCIS, 2005 US Dist. LEXIS 2898, Minn.
The US District Court for the District of Minnesota granted
a petition to correct a Certificate of Naturalization where the mistake on the
Certificate was made with no improper motive, where the correction will confer
no additional benefit to the Petitioner, and where the change will not prejudice
The Petitioner fled to Thailand from Laos in 1978 without
any documentation of her identity and was then held in Thai custody. While the
Petitioner was in custody, the Petitionerís cousin prepared documents for the
Thai government that accidentally misstated Petitionerís birth date. After
1978, the Petitioner relied upon this documentation from her cousin to show her
birth date, as it was the only documentation that she had. The documentation
stated that she was born in 1945, but she was actually born in 1942. When she
came to the US, the Petitioner used the incorrect 1945 birth date on all
immigration and naturalization documents submitted to the US government. She
obtained her Certificate of Naturalization in 1985, and it contained the
incorrect 1945 date.
The Petitioner was later able to obtain her school
identification card and a Laotian birth certificate that both contained the
correct 1942 birth date. The Petitioner used these documents to obtain a
corrected driverís license and corrected Social Security Card. In 1999, the
Petitioner signed an Affidavit of Support supporting her relatives as immigrants
to the US, and stated in the affidavit that her birth date was the incorrect
1945 date. Problems arose when her passport expired in 2003, as she was unable
to obtain a renewed passport because the birth date on her expired passport and
Certificate of Naturalization did not match the birth date on her driverís
license. The Petitioner then attempted to correct her Certificate of
The US District Court for the District of Minnesota stated
that the Petitioner bears the burden of showing that the 1945 date on her
Certificate of Naturalization is incorrect and that the 1942 date is correct.
The Court notes that the Petitioner swore multiple times on various forms and an
affidavit that the 1945 birth date was correct, but point out that after fleeing
a war torn country, it would have been reasonable for her to assume that
confirmation of her exact birth date would have been difficult or impossible.
The Court states that although her delayed presentation of a birth certificate
presents the opportunity for fraud, in this case the Government has presented no
evidence to contradict the birth certificate and identification card aside from
the immigration documents that the Petitioner filled out.
Since the Government suffered no prejudice in the
Petitioner not correcting her mistake earlier in time, and since it was not
alleged that the Petitioner intentionally misled or received any benefit from
misstating her birth date on the immigration and naturalization papers, the
Court held that the Petitioner should be issued a new Certificate with the
corrected date. The Court found that no consequence would arise from the
changing of her birth date on the Certificate other than giving her the ability
to renew her passport. The Court held that it has the power to amend a
Certificate of Naturalization where the mistake was not made with improper
motive, where correction will confer no additional benefit to the Petitioner,
and where the change will not prejudice the Government.