Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in United States v. Windsor, same-sex married couples hold the same rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to immigration.
The immigration options vary, however, based on the status of your relationship. You will need different forms to petition for a visa or green card if you are married versus engaged. Employment-based immigration adds an additional ingredient to the mix.
For the most part, gay and lesbian couples can now go through immigration in the same way straight couples do. However, a recent change in State Department rules provides an exception.
If you’re already married
When one spouse is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, they can file a Form I-130 to petition for their spouse’s citizenship. The same immigration requirements used for opposite-sex couples apply.
If you’re engaged
An engagement is enough to qualify you to file a Form I-129F, which allows a fiancé who is a foreign national to enter the U.S. As for married couples, the same immigration rules apply even if you and your partner are of the same sex.
If you’re immigrating for work
Some individuals may qualify for a Diversity Immigrant Visa (also known as Green Card Lottery winners). This means they can bring their spouse into the country under their Visa, regardless of whether they are in a same-sex or opposite-sex marriage.
The exception: Partners of foreign diplomats
In 2018, the State Department changed its policy regarding visas for same-sex partners who are not married. Previously, someone whose same-sex domestic partner was a foreign diplomat or employed by a U.S.-based international organization could apply for citizenship. Under the new rule, unmarried partners are no longer considered family members – and therefore, they cannot apply for a G-4 visa.
Applying for a visa or green card is never an easy process. But, by knowing your rights and working with an experienced immigration lawyer you and your spouse or partner can set yourselves up for success.