Family-based immigration for same-sex couples

| May 31, 2018 | Firm News

The United States is a nation of constant change, but one change you may never have expected to see is the legalization of same-sex marriage. If you are an American citizen or lawful permanent resident, you may have spent many years trying to obtain a green card for your foreign national partner through the family-based immigration program, only to meet with rejection and denial.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision forbidding state bans on same-sex marriage has opened new doors for you and many others who have been hoping to marry their partners. It also clears the way for you to sponsor your partner’s petition for a visa or green card.

Court ruling changes everything

Effective immediately after the Supreme Court’s ruling, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services could no longer deny applications for visas or petitions for changes to permanent status simply based on your marriage or engagement to a person of the same sex. Therefore, if you are legally married, you may sponsor your spouse who is seeking permanent resident status. If you are engaged but your partner is not in the U.S., you may now sponsor his or her visa application through the K-1 fiancé program.

The court’s ruling has other ramifications as well, including these:

  • If USCIS previously denied your applications or petitions because of your same-sex status, USCIS will reopen your case at your request without charging you an additional fee.
  • You may decide to start the process fresh with a new application or petition.
  • As with opposite-sex marriages, your spouse will likely qualify for a shorter waiting period if he or she wants to go through the naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen.
  • If your spouse enters the country under a conditional residency, you must apply for the usual removal of conditions within the legal time frame.

Any deterrents to your spouse’s application for a visa or green card should have nothing to do with your same-sex marriage. USCIS will evaluate your partner’s application based on admissibility standards outlined in U.S. immigration laws.

Nevertheless, you may find yourself facing challenges during your sponsorship of your partner’s petition for a green card or visa. Although you are no stranger to dealing with legal trials, the immigration process is complex. You may find it helpful to seek the advice and assistance of a Texas immigration attorney who understands the challenges same-sex couples face.