Medina Tovar v. Zuchowski, No. 18-35072 (9th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff was granted a U-visa effective a month after she married her husband. After USCIS denied plaintiff's petition for a derivative U-visa for her husband, she filed suit for declaratory and injunctive relief. The district court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment and denied plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, ruling that Congress did not address directly the question of when a marital relationship must exist for a spouse to be eligible for derivative U-visa status and that the regulation is a reasonable interpretation of the governing statute.
The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that 8 C.F.R. 214.14(f)(4) is not a permissible interpretation of the governing statute insofar as it requires that spouses be married when the Form I-918 is filed, rather than when the principal petition is granted. The court held that the statute clearly answers the relevant interpretive question: to qualify for a derivative U-visa as a spouse, a person need not have been married to the principal applicant at the time the application was filed, so long as the marriage exists when the principal applicant receives a U-visa. Therefore, section 214.14(f)(4) is invalid insofar as it requires a derivative U-visa spouse to have been married to the principal petitioner when the application was filed. In this case, plaintiff and her husband were married by the time she was granted a U-visa and when she petitioned for derivative U-visa status, her husband was entitled to receive a U-visa if he otherwise met the requirements.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on January 17, 2020.