Your Certificate of Naturalization has the wrong birthdate. Now what?

Feb 22 2020

How can an incorrect birth date be fixed on a Certificate of Naturalization? The first question is when did you naturalize, was it  before  or  after  October 1, 1991? If it was before that date, then you must go back to federal court where you naturalized and file a federal lawsuit. If it was after that date, then you would have to file an application with United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) to seek relief.

Unfortunately, if your naturalization certificate was issued before October 1, 1991, only the federal court where the certificate was issued has jurisdiction to amend it. This means that you would need to file a lawsuit in federal court against USCIS to fix it! A well drafted petition would include reasons for the error and what steps you have taken to try to fix the problem yourself. This would technically be a Rule 60(b)(6) motion under the Federal Rules of Civil procedure. Some of the issues that will concern the court is whether the application was made timely and whether there are "extraordinary circumstances" that would justify relief. The court most likely will be looking for "clear and convincing" evidence that the birthdate on the certificate is wrong, that there is no fraud, and that there is reliable evidence of the new date.

If your naturalization certificate was issued on or after October 1, 1991, you would file a Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/ Citizenship Document, with USCIS. Keep in mind that federal regulations prohibit USCIS from issuing a replacement naturalization certificate unless there was an error on the part of USCIS. Otherwise, you would be required to first obtain an order from a state court order or other vital record correcting the birth date. Then, you may apply for a replacement Certificate of Citizenship with the correct date. This situation sometimes arises when a child is born abroad and the date of birth is unknown or is an estimate. The parents may want to come back later to correct the date of birth through this process.

In either case, changing the date of birth on a Certificate of Naturalization can be a complicated process. Also, if there is any indication that this application raises questions of fraud, you should speak with an attorney before proceeding. Keep in mind that a federal judge and USCIS have the ability to revoke naturalization certificates. 

If you are trying to amend a naturalization certificate, especially one issued by a federal court prior to October 1, 1991, please make an appointment today.

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Adam G. Linett

Adam G. Linett, the founding member of A.G. Linett & Associates, PA, enjoys practicing law as a trial lawyer. After graduation from Duke Law School in 2000, he moved to New York where his work primarily focused on defense litigation and appellate work in a number of jurisdictions across the United States.

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