The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recognizes the marriages of LGBT couples who were married in states where such marriages are legal. Thankfully, the number of states and countries where marriage equality exists is increasing.
For many couples and families, this means that the stress of living "under the radar" in some other immigration status, or from trying to maintain a long-distance relationship, has ended. Importantly, even if you plan to live in a U.S. state that fails to recognize a same-sex marriage as valid, the U.S. government will recognize your marriage for immigration purposes.
Now, You Can Confidently File An Immigration Visa For Your Fiancé Or Spouse
USCIS has stated that the laws and regulations apply equally to everyone, making the LGBT immigration process no different than it is for heterosexual couples. You must prove that there is a valid relationship between you and the person for whom you are petitioning.
While USCIS is constantly vigilant for fraudulent marriages, LGBT couples should not face any more scrutiny than that given to others claiming a family relationship. The law office of Joe Adams and Associates can assist you. Please call us at 800-448-5383.
London's Gay Times, the largest European LGBT publication, featured attorney Joe Adams in an article about his firm's 2013 Annual U.S. Entertainment Immigration Seminar and the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision that invalidated certain provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act.
Anyone who wishes to apply for a U.S. visa should begin to gather the documentation listed on our main Immigration Law page. If there was any time during which a foreign spouse was in the U.S. without legal status, please discuss this with us. We also advise that your spouse not leave the U.S., if currently here, without consulting with us first.
Other important considerations are:
- USCIS will recognize marriages that take place only in "marriage equality" states or countries, such as France and the United Kingdom. Make certain that you marry in a marriage equality state or your marriage will not be valid for immigration purposes. In that case, USCIS will deny your petition. The USCIS does not require that you live in the state where your marriage occurs.
- You must meet the residency requirements in the state where you obtain a license. Each state has varying residency requirements for obtaining a marriage license. You will want to make certain that you can obtain a license to marry, from a state other than the one in which you live.
- USCIS looks to state law to determine sexual identity for transgender individuals. Transgender applicants need not necessarily have completed sex reassignment surgery at the time of filing for immigration benefits with USCIS. Rather, USCIS acknowledges that among the states, there are various points at which each recognizes when a change of gender is legal. There is a broad range of clinical treatments and other legal steps that a transgender spouse is required to take under the various state laws in order to officially or legally change gender. These include simple making a change of your sex on your birth certificate or going through the process leading up to, and having, sex reassignment surgery.
- Abusive relationships and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). If someone is in an abusive marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, the abused, non-citizen spouse will be accorded the rights and protections offered under VAWA.
- Nonimmigrant visas. LGBT spouses are eligible for the same benefits accorded under certain temporary visa categories such as H-1B, L-1, O and P. Stepchildren who are under 18 at the time of their parents' marriage are also eligible for a derivative visa.
- Fiancé and fiancée visa applications. People who enter with a fiancé or fiancée visa must marry the person who filed the petition, within a certain period of time after arrival, usually 90 days.
Reunited And It Feels So Good!
At our Los Angeles office, we can assist you with your family or business-based immigration petitions, regardless of where you live in the United States.
If you and your spouse and family have been separated by the U.S. immigration system, there is no better time to start the process to reunite. The lawyers at Joe Adams and Associates have helped many LGBT couples and families obtain the legal immigration status so long overdue to them. Please call us at 800-448-5383 to make an appointment or contact us online.