Prior Sham Marriage Can Jeopardize Later Bid For Residence

A Lebanese man came to the United States lawfully in 1999 under a H-1(b) work visa to work for his sponsoring employer, Carolyn Pickett. Subsequently the man, Elias Eid, married Ms. Pickett and lived together. But when, after Ms. Pickett and Mr. Eid filed the applications for him to be granted permanent residence in the United States, they withdrew the applications after immigration officers questioned the legitimacy of the marriage. Both Eid and Pickett then gave sworn affidavits to the INS officer. In his sworn statement, Eid said that he married Pickett in order to stay in the U.S., the marriage was never consummated, and the two had “no intention of living together as husband and wife.”  Her affidavit contained similar statements.

Now several years later, Eid tried again, after removal proceedings commenced against him in 2001, to rely on a 2003 marriage to Packard-Eid with whom he had a son, as the basis for support for a new I-130 petition. In this instance, Eid maintains the new marriage is the product of genuine love and his petition should, therefore, be accepted. But neither the Citizenship and Immigration Services (the “CIS”) nor, upon appeal, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) bought the argument. The BIA affirmed the CIS’s conclusion that INA 204(c) barred the I-130 Petition, termed Pickett and Eid’s marriage “fraudulent,” and dismissed the appeal.

Eid took the case to the United States District Court arguing that these administrative agencies, the CIS and the BIA, violated various constitutional provisions and international law by denying his I-130 petition. The crux of his position was that he was not seeking to evade the immigration laws of this country when he entered in to his first marriage with Ms. Pickett as the BIA determined.  He sought to make a distinction between seeking to procure the benefit of immigration law by getting married and evading the law and that the latter – evading the law – required a specific intent to violate the law which he never harbored.

Neither the District Court nor the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeal would conclude that the BIA acted arbitrarily or capriciously in denying his appeal of the CIS decision. The appellate court, in Eid v. Thompson, 740 F.3d 118 (2014), deferred to the BIA’s reasonable interpretation and held that when the Attorney General determines that an alien was accorded or sought to be accorded immediate relative or preference status on the basis of a marriage entered into solely to obtain immigration benefits, no additional evidence of intent is necessary to subject an alien to the bar of § 204(c). In essence, once Eid conceded, during his marriage to Ms. Pickett that such marriage was merely a means to qualify for immigration status, he damaged any chance to prospectively use a later marriage – even a genuine one – as the basis for securing permanent residency status.

The Shulman Law Group endeavors to ensure its clients be kept abreast of all significant developments relating to the process of naturalization to the United States. Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).  AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice.  In the course of Mr. Shulman’s involvement with AILA, he has been dedicated to educating other immigration attorneys about the import of helping intending immigrants to navigate a new cultural system. He meticulously follows all of the developments occurring in the battle over immigration reform so that he will be prepared to effectively assist his clients with residency if a new system is enacted.