5 Things Same-Sex Couples Should Know About Immigration
- April 12, 2019
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It would be nice if things were different, but in general being a member of a same-sex couple means being saddled with worries and complications traditional married couples just don’t face.
On this issue, there is both some good news and some bad news.
1. You can sponsor your same-sex spouse.
Thanks to the 2013 Supreme Court Case United States v. Windsor and the legality of same sex marriage in all 50 states, same-sex couples are granted the same immigration rights as heterosexual couples.
Thus, the family visa is open to you, as is the application to sponsor a fiancee.
See also: A Closer Look at Immigration Reform.
2. The marriage must be legal in the country where you got married.
Domestic partnerships or long-standing same-sex couples who are not legally married do not have the same protections as legally married couples.
The United States bases the legality of the marriage on the country that issued the marriage certificate. If your country of origin currently bans same-sex marriage you’re going to have to make arrangements to get married somewhere a bit more welcoming.
3. Previous marriages to members of the opposite sex aren’t a problem per se, but…
Applying for a family visa demands disclosure of past marriages. It’s not uncommon for same-sex couples to have a past with an opposite-sex spouse.
This shouldn’t be a huge issue. Lots of gay couples made up of natural-born US Citizens came out of opposite-sex marriages too. But if you previously filed a green card application based on the heterosexual marriage you could face accusations that you were attempting to enter the country fraudulently.
At the very least, you can expect your current application to get a lot more scrutiny.
See also: How to Become a US Citizen.
4. You may have to prove you’re gay.
It’s probably pretty annoying, because straight immigrants don’t have to prove they are straight. But nevertheless, the prudent applicant is ready with proof if proof is required. Especially if they were a member of an opposite-sex marriage in the past.
What serves as proof? You can get affidavits from family members or even friends. You can submit medical records if any of those records support your identification with the LGBQT+ community. And if you have photo evidence of other same-sex relationships it’s good to keep these on hand too, even if you don’t want to look at your ex’s face anymore.
Single LGBQT+ asylum seekers face the same problem.
5. The current administration is working to roll back these rights.
The Trump Administration has made it pretty clear it opposes both immigration rights and LGBTQ+ rights. And while President Trump hasn’t been successful in getting the Supreme Court to overturn gay marriage, he’s still found ways to toss roadblocks into the paths of LGBTQ+ immigrants.
For example, last year he had USCIS start denying visas to same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats and setting harsh deadlines of when they had to be married. He did the same to United Nations employees.
While it’s unlikely he’ll manage to roll back gay marriage on a federal level (attitudes are shifting so dramatically that even highly traditional or fundamentalist religious organizations have begun choosing a far more welcoming stance) it is worth noting that some major legal upset could complicate an application-in-progress.
As with all immigration attempts, it’s very wise to have a skilled, compassionate immigration lawyer in your corner. Contact Hykel Law today.