Immigration Sample Problem

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Sample Problem:

Problem 3, p. 318 (assume marriage was less than two years)

C’s status when D walked out on her: she was conditionally married as an LPR (less than two years from conditional status removal)

C needs D in order to petition for removal of her conditional status (joint petition) -216(d):  In the petition, C and D have to certify that there marriage wasn’t entered into just to gain admission, marriage was in accordance w/ the law where they were married and hasn’t been judicially annulled or terminated

216(c)(4) – Waiver Possibilities. 216 (c)(4)(B)- still married so doesn’t apply, 216 (c)(4)(C) no D.V indicated. So left with 216 (c)(4)(A) extreme hardship- which is most difficult of three to establish.

Arguments: she would have to leave baby behind w/husband b/c of custody:  hardship if underlying policy is to keep families together. But tricky because this is typical circumstance of removal. Might not fly.

If had baby outside states before had baby even more problematic because hardship has to occur during conditional status period.

The Visa Process

U.S. family member files visa petition with CIS. U.S. person is the petitioner; the noncitizen is the beneficiary.

CIS approves visa petition and sends it to local consulate. Consular officer interviews beneficiary and applies any inadmissibility grounds.

Visa is granted, noncitizen immigrates to U.S.

If already in the U.S., CIS examiner interviews noncitizen, who applies for adjustment of status once petition is approved.

The Child Status Protection Act (mostly in INA § 201 (f), 203 (h), 204 (k))

Prevents children from aging out of “under 21” categories. For immediate relatives, child’s age is fixed when parent files visa petition.

If parent naturalizes, child’s age is fixed on date of naturalization. This often moves petition from 2B to 1st. If that causes a slow-down, CIS allows the child to choose to remain 2B.

For 2A and derivative beneficiaries, age is fixed when the priority date becomes current, which can be a long wait. But processing time can be subtracted.

Authority over Family Definitions

Fiallo v. Bell (1977): Judicial deference

Old INA said the natural father of an illegitimate child who is a citizen or LPR cannot get family preference as a “parent.” Fiallo brings EPC challenge, says it doesn’t further govt interests and is unfair to fathers and children.

SC: Congress can make these distinctions for policy reasons. Not our area.

Dissent: Statutes should not exclude all illegitimate children, and should be tuned to alternative considerations. Unlike most immigration cases, this involves the rights of citizens, and so should have higher constitutional scrutiny.

This definition later changed by statute.

Immigration Based on Marriage

Recognized marriages

CIS recognizes marriages valid under the laws of the place they are held

However, proxy marriages, where the parties were not physically present, aren’t valid unless the marriage was consummated

Marriages that conflict with public policy are also not eligible (cousins, polygamy)

Two step analysis in Adams v. Howerton (1982):

Is the marriage valid under state law?

And does it qualify under the INA?

A same-sex marriage with a license from CO may or may mot be valid, but it doesn’t qualify under the INA because Congress didn’t intend that (common meaning of spouse is opposite-sex, homosexuality was a ground of exclusion then) (What about now, post-DOMA but post-Lawrence?)

IMFA and the green card process

Spouses and their alien children who gain LPR status through a marriage less than 2 years old get a conditional green card for 2 years. § 216 (a)(1)

If during those 2 years DHS Secretary determines that marriage was entered into for immigration purposes, has been judicially annulled or terminated (other than through death) or a fee or other consideration was given for the petition, the conditional status can be terminated and alien is deportable under § 237(a)(1)(D).

Both spouses have to petition within 90 days of the end of the 2-year period to remove the conditional status. If they do not petition, or if petition is denied – non-citizen is deportable.

Discretionary waivers are available for the joint filing requirement. § 216(4) Noncitizen must demonstrate extreme hardship AND show that marriage was entered into in good faith by the alien spouse and the termination was not his/her fault, OR that the marriage was entered into in good faith and alien spouse was victim of domestic abuse. However, the hardship must arise from the 2-year period (like a child born then)

The conditional period counts toward the naturalization clock.

Sham marriages

Otherwise valid marriages entered into solely to get immigration benefits are not recognized.

Evidence of separation does not alone support a finding that a marriage was not bona fide when it was entered. Standard is whether they intended to establish a life together at the time of marriage. Bark v. INS, 1975

Even being separated at the time of adjustment of status doesn’t mean the marriage is not legally valid or not a sham for immigration purposes. Dabaghian v. Civiletti, 1979

A lawyer’s responsibility: Model Rules prohibit a lawyer from assisting a client in conduct the lawyer knows is fraudulent.

VAWA and spousal abuse

In abusive marriage, anchor spouse has significant power over noncitizen spouse who needs him to acquire green card or remove conditions.

Under Violence Against Women Act (2000), battered spouses and children can self-petition for LPR. Must show good faith marriage, good moral character, and abuse or extreme cruelty. Can also ask for cancellation of removal.