After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional, same-sex marriages have become recognized as legal by the United States. This step has provided new benefits and protections to same-sex couples already residing in the United States as well as to those seeking to immigrate here.
Since DOMA's defeat, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) now treats same-sex marriages exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. If your same-sex spouse is applying for a marriage-based green card, the USCIS will use the same criteria to determine the validity of your marriage as it would for a marriage between a man and a woman.
While this equal treatment represents huge strides for the LGBTQ immigrant community, it should be noted that there are sometimes factors present in one's same-sex marriage that can impact their likelihood of obtaining a green card. Today we'll discuss a couple things to bear in mind:
For anyone wishing to obtain a marriage-based green card, the couple must demonstrate that their marriage is bona fide, that they are committed to each other and that they have created a life together. There are several pieces of evidence the USCIS looks at to determine a relationship's authenticity. In addition to your own assertions of commitment to each other, you will also need to present third-party evidence to support your claims.
However, when same-sex couples come from conservative families or live in conservative communities that condemn homosexuality, these can present road blocks to providing such evidence. For instance, fear of discrimination may have prevented you from claiming your same-sex spouse as your beneficiary on employment documentation, or from obtaining a shared property lease from your landlord. The USCIS also typically wants to see letters from family members verifying the validity of the couple's relationship. However, if a couple's relationship with their family is estranged, such letters may not be possible. It is important to be open about the nature of these relationships with the USCIS and to provide other third-party documentation (e.g., from friends) in its place. It is important to demonstrate that you and your spouse present yourselves as a couple to others who are close to you.