McGrath v. Kristensen

PETITIONER:J. Howard McGrath, Attorney General

DECIDED BY: Vinson Court (1949-1953)

ARGUED: Oct 19, 1950 / Oct 20, 1950
DECIDED: Dec 11, 1950

Facts of the case

Kristensen was a Danish citizen who entered the United States on a sixty-day visitor’s visa in August 1939 to visit the World’s Fair and his relatives. World War II began in September, and Kristensen was forced to remain in the United States. He obtained two six-month extensions of his visa. During his second extension, he became gainfully employed in violation of the terms of his visa, and was ordered to be deported in 1941. Since World War II continued during this period, he was not deported. Kristensen successfully sought to be exempted from military service. Under the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, however, this exemption caused him to be ineligible for naturalization as a citizen. He married an American citizen, and after the conclusion of the war, sought to have his deportation suspended under Section 19(c) of the Immigration Act of 1917. Since only foreign citizens who were eligible for naturalization could have their deportations suspended, the Attorney General denied Kristensen’s request. Though he was never arrested, he challenged his deportation in United States District Court for the District of Columbia, which dismissed his case. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed this decision, holding that the Selective Training and Service Act applied only to aliens “residing in the United States” and Kristensen was not “residing in the United States” at the time of his exemption.


(1)Was Kristensen entitled to challenge his deportation in federal court even though he was never arrested?

(2)Was Kristensen “residing in the United States” at the time of his exemption from military service and therefore ineligible for naturalization?