Immigration Rights for Same-Sex Couples
Today, same-sex couples have the same rights and benefits under U.S. immigration laws as heterosexual couples. This means that same-sex couples can apply for:
- Green cards and visas: Green cards are available to immigrants who are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident of the same sex. In order to obtain a green card under these circumstances, the applicant must show that he or she is lawfully married to his or her spouse and that the marriage is based on a genuine relationship. It does not matter if the marriage occurred in the United States or elsewhere, so long as the marriage was legally recognized in the location where it occurred. A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident can also sponsor his or her foreign-born, same-sex spouse’s application for a visa.
- Fiancé visas: U.S. citizens who are engaged to a foreign-born individual of the same sex can file a fiancé petition on behalf of their partner. A fiancé petition allows the foreign-born individual to enter the United States for the purpose of getting married to the U.S. citizen. The marriage must occur within 90 days of entering the United States. Once the marriage has occurred, the foreign-born individual can file for adjustment of status in order to obtain a green card.
- Immigration waivers: Immigration waivers are a way for immigrants who have certain negative circumstances in their background to ask U.S. immigration officials to forgive them. These circumstances can include criminal convictions,” unlawful presence,” and/or fraud. In order for an immigration waiver to be granted, the applicant must demonstrate that his or her removal from the United States would cause extreme hardship to a qualifying relative who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Because of United States v. Windsor and the invalidation of the Defense of Marriage Act, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender individuals can use their same-sex spouse as the “qualifying relative” for the purposes of immigration waivers.
- Asylum: A gay, lesbian, and/or transgender immigrant who has been granted asylum can file a relative petition in order to bring their same-sex partner to the United States as a derivative beneficiary.
- Deportation Defense: LGBTQIA immigrants who find themselves in removal proceedings in Immigration Court may apply for adjustment of status through their same-sex spouse to obtain a green card and close their court case. Gay, lesbian, and/or transgendered Immigrants may also use same-sex spouses as qualifying relatives for other forms of relief in Immigration Court.
There are other immigration options available to same-sex partners, as well. For example, diversity immigrant visa applicants (i.e., green card “lottery” winners) are able to extend permanent resident status to their same-sex spouses. Same-sex spouses of E-1 or E-2 visa recipients (Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor, respectively) can apply for E visa derivative status which also allows the spouse to obtain a work permit. Same-sex spouses wishing to accompany their spouse to the United States on an H-1B temporary work visa can also apply for a H-4 visa.
Talk to an Attorney About Immigration Benefits for Same-Sex Married Couples in Los Angeles
Regardless of your situation, individuals and families who identify as queer are eligible for the same immigration benefits as heterosexual couples. At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our team of dedicated and talented immigration lawyers are ready to assist you and your same-sex spouse in obtaining the immigration benefits you seek. Our firm is strongly supportive of the LGBTQIA community and we take pride in meeting your needs.
We understand that the type of relief that is appropriate for one same-sex couple will not necessarily be appropriate for you and your family. That is why we take the time to understand your unique situation and goals and then help you understand the immigration processes that can be used to obtain your desired outcome. Please answer a few questions and see if you qualify for a free case evaluation.