Federal Register: January 19, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 11)

DOCID: fr19ja10-1 FR Doc 2010-578

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Homeland Security Department

CFR Citation: 8 CFR Parts 328 and 329

RIN ID: RIN 1615-AB85

CIS ID: [CIS No. 2479-09; DHS Docket No. DHS-2009-0025]

NOTICE: RULES

DOCID: fr19ja10-1

DOCUMENT ACTION: Final rule.

SUBJECT CATEGORY:

Naturalization for Certain Persons in the U.S. Armed Forces

DATES: This rule is effective February 18, 2010.

DOCUMENT SUMMARY:

This rule amends the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations by implementing a statutory amendment reducing from three years to one year the length of time a member of the United States Armed Forces has to serve to qualify for naturalization through service in the Armed Forces. In addition, this rule amends DHS regulations by implementing a statutory amendment to include as eligible for naturalization individuals who served or are serving as members of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve of the U.S. Armed Forces during specified periods of hostility. This rule also amends the regulations to remove the requirement to submit Form G325B, Biographic Information, with Form N400, Application for Naturalization, for applicants applying for naturalization through service in the U.S. Armed Forces. By eliminating the Form G325B requirement, the rule will reduce the response burden and amount of time it takes U.S. Armed Forces members to complete the paperwork required with a naturalization application.

SUMMARY:

Naturalization for Certain Persons in the U.S. Armed Forces

SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION

I. Background

Prior to November 24, 2003, aliens who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during peacetime were eligible for naturalization after serving honorably for an aggregate period of three years. See Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) sec. 328(a), 8 U.S.C. 1439(a) (2002) (amended (2003)); 8 CFR 328.2(a). Additionally, aliens who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during specific periods of hostilities were eligible for naturalization without having served for any particular length of time so long as the service was in activeduty status. See INA sec. 329(a), 8 U.S.C. 1440(a) (2002) (amended (2003)); 8 CFR 329.2(a).

On November 24, 2003, Congress amended these requirements in title XVII of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (NDAA), (Pub. L. 108136, 117 Stat. 1392 (2003)), and made them effective as if enacted on September 11, 2001. The NDAA reduced from three years to one year the period of military service required to qualify for naturalization through service in the U.S. Armed Forces during peacetime. See INA sec. 328(a); 8 U.S.C. 1439(a) (2003); see also NDAA sec. 1701(c)(2). In addition, the NDAA extended the benefit of naturalization not only to individuals who served honorably in an active duty status during specified periods of hostilities, but also to individuals who have served honorably as members of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve of the U.S. Armed Forces during such periods of hostilities. See INA sec. 329(a); 8 U.S.C. 1440(a) (2003); see also NDAA sec. 1702.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been applying these statutory amendments since the law was enacted on November 24, 2003. This final rule updates the regulations to reflect these amendments. In addition, this rule removes an unnecessary paperwork requirement in the naturalization application process for applicants with qualifying service in the U.S. Armed Forces.
II. Discussion

A. One Year or More of Military Service

Current regulations at 8 CFR 328.2(b) continue to list three or more years of service in the U.S. Armed Forces as an eligibility requirement for naturalization based on service in the U.S. Armed Forces. This final rule reduces the required number of years of service to one or more years in order to conform the regulations to the applicable statutory provision at section 328(a) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1439(a), as amended by the NDAA. See revised 8 CFR 328.2(b). B. Service in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve During Periods of Hostilities

USCIS regulations, 8 CFR 329.2(a), currently limit eligibility for naturalization based on service during specified periods of hostilities to those who served honorably in an active duty status in the U.S. Armed Forces. In conformance with the expansion of eligibility made by the NDAA (see section 329(a) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1440(a)), this final rule extends eligibility for naturalization to include those individuals who have served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces either in an active duty status or as a member of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve. See revised 8 CFR 329.2(a). In addition, this rule amends the title of 8 CFR part 329 to include service in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve. Currently, the title only lists active duty service as a basis for naturalization where service occurred during specified periods of hostilities.

C. Elimination of Requirement to Submit Form G325B

Applicants applying for naturalization based on service in the U.S. Armed Forces have been required to submit Form G325B, Biographic Information, along with Form N400, Application for Naturalization. See 8 CFR 328.4, 329.4(a). Prior to 2001, USCIS sent applicants' completed Forms G325B to the Department of Defense (DoD) for background checks. As part of improvements to this process, DoD authorized the USCIS in 2001 to conduct these background checks.
[[Page 2786]]
Subsequently, USCIS determined that the information collected on Form N400 (e.g., name, date of birth, Social Security number) was sufficient to perform the background checks. Therefore, USCIS discontinued sending Forms G325B to DoD. Moreover, USCIS notes that it does not use the G325B in its adjudication of Forms N400, or for any other purpose.

Notwithstanding the discontinued use of Form G325B, USCIS regulations continue to require applicants to submit the form with their naturalization applications. See 8 CFR 328.4 and 329.4(a). However, continuing to require Form G325B would needlessly increase applicant response and USCIS processing times, as USCIS must issue a Request for Evidence and place the case on hold if the Form G325B is not submitted with the Form N400. Because the submission of a Form G 325B no longer serves a purpose in the adjudication process, this rule removes the Form G325B submission requirement for applicants applying for naturalization under section 328 or 329 of the INA. See revised 8 CFR 328.4 and 329.4(a).
III. Regulatory Requirements

A. Administrative Procedure Act

The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) provides that an agency may dispense with notice and comment rulemaking procedures when an agency is promulgating an interpretative rule, a general statement of policy, or a rule of agency organization, procedure, or practice. See 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A). The elimination of the requirement to submit Form G325B is procedural in nature and does not alter the substantive rights of affected naturalization applicants. Accordingly, DHS finds that this part of the rule is exempt from the notice and comment requirements under the APA at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A).

The APA provides that an agency may dispense with notice and comment rulemaking procedures when an agency, for ``good cause,'' finds that those procedures are ``impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.'' See 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B). This rule amends DHS regulations to conform with the changes made by the NDAA, reducing from three years to one year the amount of time a member of the U.S. Armed Forces has to serve to qualify for naturalization and extending the benefit of expedited naturalization to members of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve. INA sec. 328(a), 329(a); 8 U.S.C. 1439(a), 1440(a). These requirements were mandated by statute and DHS has applied these requirements since the law was enacted in 2003 (effective, with some exceptions, as if enacted on September 11, 2001). DHS views the act of promulgating this part of the rule as both ministerial and noncontroversial. Accordingly, DHS finds that notice and comment is unnecessary and that this part of the rule is except from the notice and comment requirements under the APA at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B).

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 601612, as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104121), requires Federal agencies to consider the potential impact of regulations on small businesses, small governmental jurisdictions, and small organizations during the development of their rules. When an agency invokes the good cause exception under the Administrative Procedure Act to make changes effective through an interim final or final rule, the RFA does not require an agency to prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis. DHS has determined in this final rule that good cause exists under 5 U.S.C. 553(b) to exempt this rule from the notice and comment. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required for this rule. However, DHS does expect that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because it affects only individuals. C. Executive Order 12866

This rule is not a significant regulatory action as defined under Executive Order 12866, section 3(f), Regulatory Planning and Review. Thus it has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

D. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

This rule will not result in the expenditure by state, local and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year, and it will not significantly or uniquely affect small governments. Therefore, no actions were deemed necessary under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.
E. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

This rule is not a major rule as defined by section 251 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. See 5 U.S.C. 804. This rule will not result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; a major increase in costs or prices; or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of the United Statesbased companies to compete with foreignbased companies in domestic and export markets.

F. Executive Order 13132: Federalism

This rule will not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the National Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with section 6 of Executive Order 13132, it is determined that this rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement.

G. Executive Order 12988: Civil Justice Reform

This rule meets the applicable standards set forth in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988.

H. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA)

Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 10413, 109 Stat. 163 (1995), all Departments are required to submit to OMB, for review and approval, any reporting or recordkeeping requirements inherent in a rule. This rulemaking does not propose to impose any new reporting or recordkeeping requirements under the PRA.

OMB previously approved the use of forms G325, G325A, G325B, and G325C under the same OMB Control No. 16150008. Removing the requirement to submit Form G325B will reduce the number of respondents and annual burden hours associated with OMB Control No. 16150008. Accordingly, USCIS will submit the Form OMB 83C, Correction Worksheet, to OMB to reduce the annual number of respondents and annual burden hours.
List of Subjects

8 CFR Part 328

Citizenship and naturalization, Military personnel, Armed Forces personnel, Application requirements, Residency requirements. 8 CFR Part 329

Citizenship and naturalization, Military personnel, Armed Forces personnel, Application requirements.
Accordingly, chapter I of Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:
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PART 328SPECIAL CLASSES OF PERSONS WHO MAY BE NATURALIZED: PERSONS WITH 1 YEAR OF SERVICE IN THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES 1. The heading for part 328 is revised as set forth above.
2. The authority citation for part 328 continues to read as follows:

Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1103, 1439, 1443.
3. Section 328.2 is amended by revising paragraph (b) to read as follows:
Sec. 328.2 Eligibility.
* * * * *
(b) Has served under paragraph (a) of this section for a period of 1 or more years, whether that service is continuous or discontinuous; * * * * *
4. Section 328.4 is amended by revising the last sentence to read as follows:
Sec. 328.4 Application.
* * * The application must be accompanied by Form N426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service.
PART 329SPECIAL CLASSES OF PERSONS WHO MAY BE NATURALIZED: PERSONS WITH ACTIVE DUTY OR CERTAIN READY RESERVE SERVICE IN THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES DURING SPECIFIED PERIODS OF HOSTILITIES 5. The heading for part 329 is revised as set forth above.
6. The authority citation for part 329 continues to read as follows:

Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1103, 1440, 1443; 8 CFR part 2. 7. Section 329.2 is amended by revising paragraph (a) introductory text to read as follows:
Sec. 329.2. Eligibility.
* * * * *
(a) Has served honorably in the Armed Forces of the United States as a member of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve or in an active duty status in the Armed Forces of the United States during: * * * * *
8. Section 329.4 is amended by revising the last sentence of paragraph (a) to read as follows:
Sec. 329.4. Application and evidence.
(a) Application. * * * The application must be accompanied by Form N426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service. * * * * *
Janet Napolitano,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2010578 Filed 11510; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 911197P

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT

Kristie Krebs, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 111 Massachusetts Avenue, NW., 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 205292030; telephone number 2022721001. This is not a tollfree number. Persons with hearing or speech impairments may access this number via TTY by calling the Federal Information Relay Service at 8008778339.