The USCIS unfairly denied an I-485 (green card) adjustment of status application for a woman who was married to a U.S. citizen battling chronic substance abuse. An attorney brought us in to assist with the case.
Drug addiction can make even the most loving person do irresponsible and unexplainable things. In this case, the Petitioner’s substance abuse problem was so intense that he ended up missing his wife’s Adjustment of Status interview. His wife, however, attended the AOS interview. We quoted a 9thCir. decision which stated that while “the regulations do not explicitly require the spouse to appear or testify on the alien’s behalf, as a practical matter, the INS[DHS] often requests the attendance of both the alien and the spouse at the initial adjustment interview… under the statutory and regulatory scheme governing INS interviews, a good cause may apply to excuse the alien’s or the petitioner’s absence and the interview may be rescheduled.”
In the adjudication process, sometimes the Government goes beyond the legal question it is required to determine—in this case, was the marriage a bona fide marriage at the time it was memorialized—into passing judgment on other aspects of the couple’s lives. That is exactly what happened in this case.
Working with the attorney, we wrote a brief pointing out that several appeals courts have found that physically living apart is not the same thing as a legal separation or the dissolution of a marriage. And the dissolution of a marriage, in and of itself, is not evidence that such marriage was entered into fraudulently.
Practically-speaking, living apart may be a step toward divorce for some couples, but for others it is a step toward individual healing and, ultimately, a stronger marital union. In fact, the U.S. Citizen at issue in this case was holding tightly to his relationship with Petitioner as one of the remaining life-lines he had in battling his disease.
The attorney presented these arguments to USCIS and the motion was granted.