First Circuit Case a Reminder of Hazards of Lying on an Immigration Application

Court draws on theory of "falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus" (false in one thing, false in everything).

Marisol Quezada-Caraballo married Jose Garay, a U.S. citizen living in Puerto Rico. He apparently began the process of obtaining her a green card, so that she became a U.S. conditional resident. They then separated, and she moved to Rhode Island.

However, she hit a stumbling block when it came time to filing the Form I-751 petition to remove the conditions on residence (and become a permanent resident). That form is normally filed jointly, with the signature of both spouses, to prove that the marriage has survived its first two years. (U.S. immigration law uses this requirement as a way to test whether a marriage is bona fide, or the real thing.) But with the two having separated, obtaining that second signature was not an option.

She did have another possibility, however: File the petition solo, with a showing that, although the marriage was bona fide, it had ended. This is one of the available waivers with the I-751, as described in Divorce and Your Conditional Residence Status: How to File a Divorce Waiver With Form I-751.

The type of evidence that an applicant may submit in support of this waiver are things like vacation photos, evidence of joint bank aacounts, insurance and estate documents, and so on. The idea is to show that, during the period of the marriage, the couple took steps to combine their lives.

Unfortunately, Ms. Quezada-Caraballo went a step further with the evidence provided with the I-751 waiver. She apparently claimed that her husband had lived with her in Rhode Island, and supplied fake documents to prove it, such as mail supposedly sent to the two of them.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) spotted the fraud, and denied her waiver. She appealed to the B.I.A, and then to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. (See Marisol Quezada-Caraballo v. Loretta E. Lynch, 10/31/2016.)

In affirming the denial, the court of appeals drew on the legal concept of, “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus" (false in one thing, false in everything). In plain English, that means that one lie, in the context of an immigration application, is enough to make the authorities disbelieve anything else the applicant might claim.

Though we aren’t given many of the facts within the court’s opinion, it’s entirely possible that the marriage in the case was bona fide. The court certainly doesn’t mention any damning evidence showing that it was a sham. But trying to make the marriage look better than it really was led to a firm series of denials.