Belevich v. Thomas, No. 19-14668 (11th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
A family-based immigrant is presumptively likely to become a public charge, ineligible for admission, but that presumption can be overcome if a sponsoring relative executes an “affidavit of support.” 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4)(C)(ii), (a)(4)(D). Kuznitsnyna and her daughter, Thomas, co-sponsored the immigration of Kuznitsnyna’s husband, Belevich, and signed Form I-864 affidavits, which that their obligation to support Belevich would terminate if he became a citizen, worked 40 quarters, no longer had lawful permanent resident status and departed the U.S., attained a new support affidavit, or died; “divorce does not terminate your obligations.” DHS granted Belevich a visa.
Years later, while Belevich was visiting his mother in Russia, Kuznitsnyna sought a divorce. When Belevich returned to the U.S., Kuznitsnyna would not allow him into their home. She obtained an order of protection against him. Neither Thomas nor Kuznitsnyna subsequently provided Belevich with any financial support. Later, Belevich was charged with abusing Thomas’s six-year-old daughter and possessing child pornography. Belevich sued for breach of the support affidavits. The women raised the affirmative defenses of unclean hands, anticipatory breach, and equitable estoppel. The district court rejected those arguments, held that Belevich’s conduct relating to the pending criminal charges had “no relevance to the statute,” and granted Belevich summary judgment. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The sponsors’ equitable defenses are foreclosed by the statute and regulation and by the text of the affidavit.