Livia Lungulescu and Romanovsky Law Offices on brief for petitioner.
Benjamin C. Mizer, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, Ernesto H. Molina, Jr., Assistant Director, Office of Immigration Litigation, and Joanna L. Watson, Trial Attorney, Office of Immigration Litigation, on brief for respondent.
Before Howard, Chief Judge, Selya and Thompson, Circuit Judges.
PETITION FOR REVIEW OF AN ORDER OF THE BOARD OF IMMIGRATION APPEALS
SELYA, Circuit Judge.
The petitioner, Julia Mercedes Cabrera, is a native and citizen of the Dominican Republic. She seeks judicial review of a final order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) upholding a decision of an immigration judge (IJ), which denied her both an I-751 waiver and cancellation of removal. After careful consideration, we deny her petition.
We briefly rehearse the facts and travel of the case. The petitioner entered the United States in January of 1991 and married a U.S. citizen later that same year. Through that marriage, she was able to acquire status as a conditional lawful permanent resident on June 25, 1993. See 8 U.S.C. § 1186a(a)(1), (h)(1). The petitioner and her spouse subsequently filed an I-751 joint petition (the joint petition) seeking to remove the conditional nature of the petitioner's residency status. See id. § 1186a(c)(1).
Following an interview in early 1996, the Immigration and Naturalization Service notified the petitioner of its intent to deny the joint petition based on a finding of marriage fraud. The joint petition was formally denied on August 8, 1997, resulting in the termination of the petitioner's status as a conditional lawful permanent resident. The petitioner never sought review of this adverse determination. Shortly thereafter, the petitioner and her spouse became embroiled in divorce proceedings and a final divorce decree was entered on June 18, 1999.
In October of 2000, federal authorities placed the petitioner in removal proceedings. The next year (while still in removal proceedings), the petitioner filed another I-751 petition. This petition (the waiver petition) sought a waiver of the joint petition requirements, maintaining that the petitioner had entered into her marriage in good faith. See id. § 1186a(c)(4).
The waiver petition proved unavailing: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denied it on October 5, 2006. In doing so, USCIS did not consider the merits of the waiver petition but, rather, relied on the previous finding of marriage fraud. USCIS explained that the marriage fraud finding rendered the petitioner ineligible to seek a waiver of the joint filing requirement.
The removal proceedings were resumed and, in April of 2012, the petitioner appeared for a merits hearing. The IJ asked the petitioner whether she was seeking review of the denial of her joint petition or the denial of her waiver petition. The petitioner confirmed that she was seeking review only of the denial of the waiver petition.
At the end of the hearing, the IJ upheld the denial of the waiver petition. She found that the petitioner had not carried her burden of proving that she had entered into her marriage in good faith. Relatedly, the IJ found that the petitioner was ineligible for cancellation of ...