United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER RE: MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on the Parties'
cross-motions for Summary Judgment. Dkts. #23 and #29.
Plaintiffs Uzma Shah and her husband Pratap Sundavadara bring
this action to challenge Defendant United States Citizenship
and Immigration Services (“USCIS”)'s finding
that their marriage was not bona fide and was entered into
for immigration purposes, ultimately resulting in the denial
of Plaintiff Shah's I-130 visa petition. Plaintiffs filed
this action challenging that decision as arbitrary and
capricious under the Administrative Procedures Act
(“APA”). For the reasons stated below, the Court
GRANTS Defendants' Motion and DENIES Plaintiffs'
seek judicial review of USCIS's September 30, 2017,
denial of the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative that
Plaintiff Shah filed on October 28, 2015, on behalf of
Plaintiff Sundavadara. Dkt. #1, ¶¶ 1.1, 8.2.
Plaintiff Shah is a naturalized United States citizen who
immigrated from Pakistan. Dkt. #30, Declaration of Michelle
R. Lambert (“Lambert Decl.”), Ex. 1. Plaintiff
Sundavadara is a citizen of India. Id. Shah and
Sundavadara married on August 18, 2015, in King County,
Washington. Id. By filing the I-130 Petition,
Plaintiff Shah sought to qualify Plaintiff Sundavadara as her
spouse under section 201(b) of the Immigration and
Nationality Act (“INA”). Id. Plaintiff
Sundavadara also filed a Form I-485 Application to Register
Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Dkt. #1 at ¶ 8.2.
support of the I-130 Petition, Plaintiff Shah provided
documentary evidence of her marriage to Plaintiff
Sundavadara. This included their birth certificates, divorce
decrees from prior spouses, lease agreement, utility bills,
photos, marriage certificate, bank statements, personal
correspondence, and other documents. Lambert Decl., Ex. 2.
Seven months later, USCIS scheduled the couple for an
interview at the Seattle Field Office.
2, 2016, Plaintiffs appeared for the interview with an
immigration Services Officer. Lambert Decl., Ex. 3. At the
interview, Plaintiffs provided testimony under oath and
provided documentary evidence to establish their marriage.
Lambert Decl., Ex. 4 at 1. The Services Officer interviewed
Plaintiffs separately concerning the bona fides of their
marriage. Id.; see also Lambert Decl., Ex.
maintains that Plaintiffs testified inconsistently with each
other or with their documentary evidence. Defendants state:
For example, Plaintiff Sundavadara stated that he proposed
marriage in a restaurant in Federal Way, yet Plaintiff Shah
claimed that he proposed to her by email prior to returning
to Seattle. [Lambert Decl., ] Ex. 4, Decision, at 2. As for
their living arrangements, on their G-325A, biographic
information forms, Plaintiffs both claimed to have moved in
together in August 2015, under a jointly signed lease.
Id., at 3. However, at their interviews, they both
testified that only Plaintiff Sundavadara lived at the listed
address and that Plaintiff Shah continued to live in Federal
Way with her children. Id. When asked, separately,
about activities that Plaintiffs engaged in together, neither
provided a detailed response. Id. When specifically
asked what Plaintiffs did during their last day off,
Plaintiffs' stories contradicted one another.
Dkt. #29 at 4-5. Because of these discrepancies, the case
continued for additional review. Id.
August 9, 2016, at 7:15 in the morning, two immigration
officers conducted a site visit. Dkt #30-4 at 4. The officers
advised Plaintiff Shah that they were at the home to talk
about Plaintiffs' pending applications with USCIS.
Id. Ms. Shah greeted the officers at the door, went
back inside for a few minutes, then admitted the officers.
Id. For security reasons, the officers asked how
many people were in the residence at that time. Id.
Ms. Shah stated three-herself and her two daughters, who were
sleeping. Id. The officers asked where Plaintiff
Sundavadara was currently, and she stated that he was at work
at Lucky Casino (this is later to be corrected to the Emerald
Queen Casino). Dkt #30-4 at 4. When asked to see Plaintiff
Sundavadara's mail, Plaintiff Shah stated that it was in
her car, and was unable to show the officers any mail
currently in the home belonging to him because she tends to
throw it away after he looks at it. Id.
officers repeatedly asked for evidence of Mr.
Sundavadara's possessions being in the house-clothes,
etc. They observed only female clothes being in the closet,
and only a few t-shirts, shorts, or sweatpants that could be
male clothes. Id. When asked to see Mr.
Sundavadara's razor, Plaintiff Shah produced a pink
razor, which she claimed to be his. Id. Plaintiff
Shah claimed there was no shaving cream because Mr.
Sundavadara shaves with soap. When asked where Mr.
Sundavadara keeps his underwear and socks, Ms. Shah said she
would have to look in the laundry, found none in the laundry,
then stated that Mr. Sundavadara does not wear underwear.
officers then checked two other bedrooms, one which obviously
belonged to one of the daughters and the other which was
locked. At first Ms. Shah said that this bedroom belonged to
her other daughter, but then that daughter walked in from the
outside of the house. Id. Ms. Shah then instructed
the occupant of the room to open the locked door, and a man
named Syed Ali was revealed. This man said he was the father
of the two girls and Ms. Shah's ex-husband. Id.
Although Ms. Shah and Mr. Ali stated that he was just
“lying down and resting, ” the officers believed
he had spent the night at the house. Id. As stated
by USCIS: “[t]he officers advised Mr. Ali that his car
is cold, and that combined with him being in a bedroom
sleeping in the home without socks while his daughters were
also still asleep, and appearing to be just waking up
himself, indicates that he may have been at the residence for
a while, possibly overnight. Mr. Ali stated that his car does
not heat up, even when he drives to Portland, but provided no
explanation or clarification to the timeline of events in
question that morning.” Id. at
March 8, 2017, USCIS issued a notice of Intent to Deny
(“NOID”) advising that evidence supporting the
petition was insufficient and giving Plaintiffs 30 days to
respond. Dkt #30-3. Plaintiffs submitted additional
documents, such as bills, mail, pictures, and fertility
records. However, on September 30, 2017, USCIS determined
that these records did not overcome ...