Eche v. Holder

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 09-11-2012
  • Case #: 10-17652
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Schroeder for the Court; Circuit Judges Callahan and N. R. Smith
  • Full Text Opinion

A lawful permanent resident’s time residing in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands before 2009, when federal immigration law became effective, does not count toward the five-year residency requirement for naturalization.

The Plaintiffs-Appellants, Perry Po-Sheung and Peter Eche, became permanent residents of the United States and moved to the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) in 2000 and 2005 respectively. In 2009, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act became effective. The statute replaced CNMI immigration law with federal immigration law effectively allowing legally permanent residents to count the time they reside in the CNMI toward the residency requirement for naturalization. In 2009, both Eche and Lo applied in the CNMI to naturalize as United States citizens. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services rejected both applications on the grounds that their pre-transition date residence did not count. Eche and Lo filed suit in district court. The court agreed with USCIS and the plaintiffs appealed. The Ninth Circuit held that the plain language of the statute makes clear that “any residence or presence” in the CNMI before the effective date of the statute is not counted as, “residence or presence in the United States.” Thus, the time the plaintiffs resided in the CNMI before the new laws took effect does not count toward the five-year residency requirement. AFFIRMED.

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