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Immigration Law

Military Naturalization Victory in DC: Samma v. DOD

Samma v. DOD

"The United States has a long history of allowing noncitizens to serve in its military and providing those who serve with an expedited path to citizenship. But in recent years, despite its
need for noncitizen enlistees to fill its ranks, the Department of Defense (“DOD”) had placed obstacles in that path to citizenship. DOD’s actions have led to a significant amount of litigation, much of it before this Court. This is another such case that pits noncitizen service members against the DOD.

Plaintiffs are noncitizens serving in the United States military who wish to file applications for naturalization pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1440, which provides an expedited path to
naturalization based on military service during designated periods of hostilities. They are challenging a DOD policy adopted on October 13, 2017, that requires them to meet certain
durational and type of service requirements (“Minimum Service Requirements”) before they can obtain a Certification of Honorable Service (USCIS Form N-426) (“N-426 Policy”). A certified N-426 is required by the United States Citizen and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) in order to apply for naturalization based on military service. Plaintiffs bring claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) seeking to vacate the Minimum Service Requirements because they are arbitrary and capricious; not in accordance with law; and in excess of statutory jurisdiction; result in agency action unlawfully withheld and unreasonably delayed; and were enacted without notice and comment. See 5 U.S.C. §§ 553, 706(1), 706(2)(A), (C), (D). The Court has certified a class and two subclasses to challenge these requirements. See Samma v. U.S. Dep’t of Defense, No. 20-cv-1104, 2020 WL 4501000, at *10 (D.D.C. Aug. 4, 2020).

Before the Court are the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment. (See Pls. Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 4 (“Pls.’ SJ Mot.”); Defs.’ Cross-Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 19 (“Defs.’ SJ
Mot.”).) For the reasons stated herein, the Court will grant plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and vacate the Minimum Service Requirements in DOD’s N-426 Policy."