Michael Bitton v. Uscis

NOT FOR PUBLICATION FILED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS MAY 27 2020 MOLLY C. DWYER, CLERK U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT MICHAEL BITTON; MERAV BUSKILA No. 18-56668 EDERI, D.C. No. 2:17-cv-07617-SJO-PLA Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. MEMORANDUM* UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES; et al., Defendants-Appellees. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California S. James Otero, District Judge, Presiding Submitted April 17, 2020** Pasadena, California Before: FLETCHER and LEE, Circuit Judges, and SETTLE,*** District Judge. Michael Bitton and Merav Ederi appeal the district court’s summary judgment decision upholding the government’s denial of an I-130 visa petition for “immediate * This disposition is not appropriate for publication and is not precedent except as provided by Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3. ** The panel unanimously concludes this case is suitable for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. App. P. 34(a)(2). *** The Honorable Benjamin H. Settle, United States District Judge for the Western District of Washington, sitting by designation. relative” status submitted by Bitton on Ederi’s behalf. We affirm. 1. We review de novo summary judgment rulings on Administrative Procedure Act challenges to the denial of visa petitions. See Family Inc. v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs., 469 F.3d 1313, 1315 (9th Cir. 2006). The underlying agency action may be set aside only if it was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” Id. (quoting 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A); Ariz. Cattle Growers’ Ass’n v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife, 273 F.3d 1229, 1236 (9th Cir. 2001)). The agency’s factual findings are reviewed for substantial evidence and should not be disturbed “‘unless the evidence presented would compel a reasonable finder of fact to reach a contrary result.’” Id. (quoting Monjaraz-Munoz v. INS, 327 F.3d 892, 895 (9th Cir. 2003), amended by 339 F.3d 1012 (9th Cir. 2003)). An I-130 petitioner bears the burden, by a preponderance of evidence, to establish a “bona fide” marriage by demonstrating an intent “to establish a life together at the time of their marriage.” See Matter of Pazandeh, 19 I. & N. Dec. 884, 887 (BIA 1989); Matter of McKee, 17 I. & N. Dec. 332, 334-35 (BIA 1980). Evidence of intent may include “proof that the beneficiary has been listed as the petitioner’s spouse on insurance policies, property leases, income tax forms, or bank accounts; and testimony or other evidence regarding courtship, wedding ceremony, shared residence, and experiences.” Matter of Laureano, 19 I. & N. Dec. 1, 3 (BIA 2 1983). The agency’s denial of Bitton’s I-130 petition is supported by substantial evidence. Specifically, the agency’s conclusion that Bitton failed to establish a bona fide marriage is supported by record evidence that: (i) the appellants’ “joint” bank account was not used to pay for key living expenses, such as rent, utilities, or insurance; (ii) insurance documents did not reflect joint dental coverage; (iii) at the first claimed marital residence, the property manager provided information suggesting the appellants fabricated their claim of cohabitation; (iv) at the second ...

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