Nivar Santana v. Garland, No. 22-2114 (4th Cir. 2024)Annotate this Case
In this case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reviewed a petition by Sintia Dines Nivar Santana, a native and citizen of the Dominican Republic, who sought to review a final order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) that affirmed a decision by an immigration judge (IJ) declaring her ineligible for adjustment of status. Nivar was deemed inadmissible for falsely claiming to be a citizen of the United States. Her appeal presented two contentions of error. First, she argued that the IJ and BIA erroneously ruled that she was required to establish her admissibility “clearly and beyond doubt,” rather than by a preponderance of the evidence. Second, she contended that her evidentiary hearing before the IJ was fundamentally unfair due to the IJ’s erroneous admission of a Form I-9 (the “employment eligibility form”).
The court rejected Nivar’s contentions of error and denied her petition for review. On the first point, the court ruled that the BIA and IJ did not err in applying the “clearly and beyond doubt” standard. The court explained that, for a noncitizen to qualify for adjustment of status, she must satisfy a statutory provision, which requires a noncitizen applying for adjustment of status to demonstrate that she is then and there admissible into the United States for permanent residence. The court stated that this requirement means that Nivar was required to prove — “clearly and beyond doubt” — that she did not falsely claim United States citizenship.
On the second point, the court found that although the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) failed to timely submit the employment eligibility form, Nivar was not deprived of “the opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.” The court also determined that the admission of the form did not render the hearing fundamentally unfair. Therefore, the court concluded that Nivar’s evidentiary hearing did not violate due process considerations.