Scialabba v. Cuellar de Osorio, et. al.

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: June 9, 2014
  • Case #: 12-930
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Kagan, J. announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which Kennedy, J. and Ginsburg, J. joined. Roberts, C. J., joined by Scalia, J. filed a concurring opinion. Sotomayor, J., filed a dissenting opinion joined by Breyer, J., and which Thomas, J., joined except as to footnote 3.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Board of Immigration Appeals interpretation of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), which limits the automatic conversion of visa priority dates of visa petition derivative beneficiaries upon aging out, is reasonable as the Board is entitled to Chevron deference.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1101, when a visa becomes available to the immigrant visa petition’s primary beneficiary, then visa(s) also become available to their unmarried minor children (derivative beneficiaries). When the derivative beneficiaries reach the age of 21, or “age out”, Petitioners, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) determined that the derivative beneficiaries lose their priority date. Respondents, parents of derivative beneficiaries, sued on their childrens' behalf in order for them to keep their priority date.

The district court granted summary judgement in favor of Petitioners. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, and held that under the Child Status Protection Act 8 U.S.C. § 1153 (CSPA), “the alien shall retain the original priority date issues upon receipt of the original petition,” The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve a circuit split on the meaning of the CSPA.

The United States Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit’s decision because, under Chevron, Petitioners' are entitled to deference in their reasonable interpretation if the law does not speak clearly to the question at issue. The CSPA calls for “automatic conversion” of a derivative beneficiary to an “appropriate category,” which Petitioners have interpreted as limiting the availability of automatic conversions to derivative beneficiaries whose relationship to the lawful permanent resident sponsor is the same as that of the primary beneficiary.

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