Annulment of Green Card Marriage Upheld

     (CN) – A Texas woman proved that her Pakistani husband defrauded her by marrying her for a green card, a state appeals court ruled.
     Jawed Manjlai came to the United States from Pakistan in 2006 on a visitor’s visa. He and his family retained a marriage broker, who introduced him to Nabila Hamid, an American citizen living in Houston.
     The two met in November 2007 and had a civil wedding ceremony on Feb. 1, 2008. Nabila sponsored her husband for permanent residency four days later.
     The couple had an Islamic wedding ceremony on March 20, 2008. Three years later, Jawed’s green card application was approved.
     Nabila learned from others in her community five months later, in July 2011, that Jawed had ended the marriage in a ceremony according to Islamic tradition.
     Nabila sued Jawed to annul the civil marriage on the grounds of fraud. She presented evidence that Jawed had used her to get his green card and to induce her family into helping Jawed and his family.
     Testifying that Jawed never expressed love to her or gave her flowers or presents, Nabila said their relationship felt like they “were just roommates.”
     Nabila also presented evidence that her family loaned money and jewelry to Jawed’s family that was never returned. She also showed that Jawed cashed her $2,500 student loan check and told her that the bank had denied the loan.
     A community member informed Nabila of the religious divorce ceremony on July 13, 2011, three days after Jawed had texted her, “It’s all over.”
     Another woman, Anam Syed, testified that she was actually engaged to Jawed before he agreed to marry Nabila. Syed said she had talked “in detail” with Jawed about sponsoring him for a green card.
     The Harris County District Court ruled for Nabila. Jawed did not challenge the money judgment, but he appealed the annulment, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to deny his motion for a new trial.
     A divided three-judge panel with the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston affirmed on Aug. 26.
     “Even though Jawed contends that any false representations were made during, rather than before, the marriage, the record reveals circumstantial evidence from which a jury could infer that Jawed made false representations intended to induce Nabila into executing the civil ceremony,” Justice Ken Wise wrote for the majority.
     Though Jawed had argued that Nabila continued to live with him after discovering the fraud, Wise said this assertion does not entitle Jawed to a new trial because the jury could conclude that she did not discover the entire fraud until she learned of the divorce.
     “By the time Jawed divorced Nabila, the couple was not cohabitating,” the ruling states. “Thus, the evidence is sufficient to support the jury’s conclusion that Nabila did not cohabitate with Jawed after discovering the fraud.”
     Chief Justice Kem Thompson Frost wrote in dissent that Nabila is entitled to a divorce but not an annulment. Frost noted that the couple “shared sexual relations and held themselves out as husband and wife.”
     Nabila moreover agreed that the annulment was “window dressing maybe to get Jawed to lose his green card,” the dissent states.
     “Though the record contains evidence that Jawed engaged in deceptive conduct after the parties were married, this post-marriage conduct does not entitle Nabila to an annulment of the marriage,” Frost added.

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