United States District Court, S.D. New York
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Kevin Castel United States District Judge.
immigration law permits a United States citizen to file a
petition for permanent resident status on behalf an alien
spouse. The petitioner must show that the couple intended to
establish a life together at the time they entered into
marriage. If immigration authorities find that the marriage
was a sham intended to evade the immigration laws, the alien
spouse is thereafter barred from receiving a marriage-based
adjustment to immigration status.
Sukhwinder Singh brings this action pursuant to the
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 701, et
seq. Her husband, Balbir Singh, previously was married
to a woman named Doris McWilliams, whom he met and married in
July 1984, within one month of his arrival to the United
States. In 1987, immigration authorities concluded that Singh
and McWilliams entered into a sham marriage, and denied a
petition that McWilliams filed on Balbir Singh's behalf.
McWilliams and Balbir Singh divorced in 1991. In 1992, Balbir
Singh married plaintiff Sukhwinder Singh. Since that time,
Sukhwinder Singh has filed petitions to the United States
Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”)
for an adjustment to Balbir Singh's immigration status.
Based on the earlier finding that Balbir Singh's marriage
to McWilliams was a fraudulent attempt to evade the
immigration laws, those petitions have been denied.
Sukhwinder Singh seeks to vacate and remand a decision of the
USCIS, subsequently affirmed by the Board of Immigration
Appeals (“BIA”), that denied a petition for
lawful permanent resident status that she filed on behalf of
Balbir Singh. The BIA and USCIS have moved for summary
judgment pursuant to Rule 56, Fed. R. Civ. P., and plaintiff
Sukhwinder Singh has filed a cross-motion for summary
judgment. There are no disputed issues of fact.
the decisions of the USCIS and the BIA were not arbitrary and
capricious, and were supported by substantial evidence, the
defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted and
the plaintiff's motion is denied.
purposes of the parties' respective motions, the
following facts are undisputed.
INS's Conclusion that Balbir Singh's Marriage to
Doris McWilliams Was a Sham Marriage.
1984, Balbir Singh, a native and citizen of India, arrived to
the United States and, within a month, married Doris
McWilliams, a United States citizen. (Record 253, 483.) The
Court will refer to Balbir Singh as “Singh, ”
Doris McWilliams by her maiden name “McWilliams,
” and plaintiff Sukhwinder Singh by her first name,
August 8, 1984, McWilliams filed a “Petition to
Classify Status of Alien Relative for Issuance of Immigrant
Visa” under Form I-130 issued by what was then called
the Immigration and Naturalization Service (the
“INS”). (Id. 541.) The petition
identified Singh as McWilliams's husband and the
beneficiary of the petition. (Id.) The petition
annexed McWilliams's birth certificate; a marriage
certificate of Singh and McWilliams dated July 31, 1984; a
photograph of Singh and McWilliams locked in an embrace; and
individual headshots of Singh and McWilliams. (Id.
543-48.) While adjudication of the 1984 petition was pending,
McWilliams filed renewed petitions on January 17, 1986
(id. 524) and July 24, 1986 (id. 481), and
annexed additional materials, including copies of leases for
an apartment in Brighton Beach; a realtor's note
addressed to both Singh and McWilliams; employment-related
materials for McWilliams and Singh; correspondence that the
IRS and a telephone provider sent to McWilliams at the
Brighton Beach address; and documents related to Singh
including copies of his passport, birth certificate, an
affidavit from his father, and a “character
certificate” issued by police in India. (Id.
489, 492-93, 491, 484, 487, 502, 511, 526, 546, 490, 508-09,
2, 1987, an INS officer interviewed Singh and McWilliams, an
88-page transcript of which is included in the record.
(Id. 376-463.) Some of the answers provided by Singh
and McWilliams included inconsistent details. Singh stated
that he and McWilliams met on a beach at the end of July
1984, decided to marry the next day, and were married two or
three days later, whereas McWilliams stated that they met on
a beach in early July and married at the end of the month.
(Id. 422-28, 384-86, 453-54.) They gave conflicting
answers concerning certain details of the wedding. McWilliams
stated that she and a friend named Barbara, whose last name
she could not recall, took a subway to the Borough Hall
station in Brooklyn, where they met Singh, and that after the
ceremony, she, Barbara and Singh went out to eat. (Record
391-92.) Singh stated that he met Barbara and McWilliams on
Court Street in Brooklyn, and that after the wedding
ceremony, their meal included a fourth person, Anthony
Robinson. (Id. 432-38.)
asked about members of Singh's family, McWilliams stated
that Singh's father “just passed away,
February.” (Id. 390.) But Singh testified that
his father had died in December 1985 with the news reaching
him in February 1986, a year earlier than McWilliams
testified. (Id. 455-56.)
McWilliams's employment, Singh stated that McWilliams
worked at a post office from July 1985 to September 1985.
(Id. 401-02, 446.) McWilliams stated that she also
worked as a file clerk from March 1985 to July 1985, and
Singh stated that she had stayed home while they lived off
her savings and borrowed money. (Id. 402-03, 447-49,
the interview, the INS further investigated the marriage of
Singh and McWilliams. A July 15, 1987 memo written by the
interviewer stated that “[m]any answers agreed,
possibly the result of prior rehearsal. However, the profile
of the case, the account of their meeting and marriage, and
the discrepancies in answers to some basic questions make
their relationship questionable.” (Id. 364.)
The memo noted the above-summarized inconsistencies in the
interview, and recommended that “an investigation [be]
conducted into the bona fides of this marriage so that final
adjudication of the petition may be made as soon as possible
. . . .” (Id. 365.)
29, 1987, an INS investigator interviewed Frank Robinson,
superintendent of a building located at 521 West 151st Street
in Manhattan. (Id. 357, 361.) Robinson stated that
he was the father of Anthony Robinson, and that his son had
lived for at least three years in apartment 33 with
McWilliams, whom he described as Anthony Robinson's
common-law wife. (Id. 357, 361.) Robinson identified
a picture of McWilliams, and stated that he was unfamiliar
with Singh, or with McWilliams's relationship with Singh.
(Id. 361.) The investigator then spoke to Cassandra
Littlejohn, who resided across the hall of Anthony Robinson
and had lived at the apartment for approximately five years.
(Id. 360.) She confirmed that Frank Robinson was the
father of Anthony Robinson, identified McWilliams by