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In Belevich v. Thomas, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed as a matter of first impression whether an immigrant’s sponsor may be excused from her statutory obligation under 8 U.S.C. § 1183a to financially support the immigrant by asserting the equitable defenses of unclean hands, anticipatory breach, and equitable estoppel. In this case, the Department of Homeland Security granted the appellee, Valentin Belevich, admission into the United States on the basis of Form I-864 affidavits executed by the appellants—his wife, Tatiana Kuznitsnyna, and her daughter, Klavdia Thomas (“the sponsors”). These affidavits promised the United States that the sponsors “would support Belevich at 125% of the poverty income level” if he was granted a visa. However, after Belevich was accused of sexually abusing Thomas’s six-year-old daughter, the sponsors refused to provide him with further financial support. Belevich brought this suit to enforce the sponsors to continue to satisfy their financial obligation, and in response the sponsors asserted several equitable defenses. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama rejected the sponsors’ defenses as a matter of law, and a jury awarded Belevich damages. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling, holding that such defenses are “foreclosed by the statute and regulation that govern the Form I-864 affidavit, as well as the text of the affidavit itself.”


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