The Nitty Gritty Work

I have so far completed two decisions for two different immigration judges and am working on two other decisions (for two different judges as well). One decision is another cancellation of removal relief application for a respondent from Tanzania. The other decision I have the opportunity to draft is an I-751 case for a respondent from Ghana. This is a case regarding the removal of conditional status as a lawful permanent resident. The conditional status occurs when a noncitizen marries a US citizen or a US lawful permanent resident within two years of applying to be a lawful permanent resident in the US. After two years of living in the US with the conditional status, the noncitizen is able to apply to have the conditional status removed by proving they entered the marriage in good faith. If a noncitizen with conditional status is in removal proceedings, it is often the case that their waiver to remove conditional status was denied by USCIS and they are now applying to have the denial reexamined. It is important to note that divorce does not automatically bar the noncitizen from successfully removing conditional status.

It has been fascinating the listen to the hearing, seeing what questions the DHS counsel asked to figure out if the marriage was entered into in good faith. Questions asked include, what the couple did after the wedding and how the couple co-mingled finances and why they did not comingle certain finances. Digging into someone’s personal life, especially something as personal as marriage, seems very invasive but I understand it is necessary to meet the standard of proving the marriage was entered in good faith.

The decision I wrote was complicated because not enough evidence – as well as contradictory evidence – was presented, thus making it difficult to get a complete picture of the marriage before it ended. I wish I had more evidence and clearer testimony to have a better understanding of the life the noncitizen and the US citizen lived. However, this was the first decision I wrote completely before sending it to my supervisor and I am proud of how it turned out, particularly because of the complexities of the case.

Another particular complexity of the decision was understanding the testimony and coherently summarizing it in the Summary of the Claim section of the decision. The hearing from which the testimony came was four and a half hours long. It took a day for me to listen to and transcribe the testimony. It helped that part of the testimony was the interpreter, so I did not have to transcribe every second of the testimony. Nonetheless, it was a long day of understanding what the noncitizen was trying to say, deciphering the individual’s answers, and figuring out how best to word the summary so I captured the mannerisms of the noncitizen while not placing too much of my own interpretation in the summary. I look forward to my supervisor’s feedback on Monday.