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CA11 on I-864 Defenses: Belevich v. Thomas

November 02, 2021 (1 min read)

Belevich v. Thomas

"The question in this appeal is whether certain equitable defenses may excuse an immigrant’s sponsor from her financial obligation to support the immigrant under 8 U.S.C. § 1183a. Tatiana Kuznitsnyna and her daughter, Klavdia Thomas, sponsored Kuznitsnyna’s husband, Valentin Belevich, for admission into the United States by executing Form I-864 affidavits, which the Department of Homeland Security approved. By signing these affidavits, the sponsors promised the United States that they would support Belevich at 125% of the poverty income level if the United States granted Belevich a visa. After Belevich immigrated from Russia, the sponsors cut off all financial support and accused him of sexually abusing Thomas’s six-year-old daughter. Belevich sued to enforce their obligations, and the sponsors raised the affirmative defenses of unclean hands, anticipatory breach, and equitable estoppel. The district court rejected those defenses as a matter of law and awarded damages to Belevich. The sponsors argue that the district court erred in rejecting their defenses. We hold that these defenses are foreclosed by the statute and regulation that govern the Form I-864 affidavit, as well as the text of the affidavit itself. Accordingly, we affirm."