Category Archives: Immigration Benefits for Same Sex Couples

Immigration Benefits for Same Sex Couples

America has recently seen real and positive changes that mean greater acceptance and equality for those in LGBTQ community. June’s Supreme Court decisions, greater media exposure, and growing public support have established new legal and social precedents. Thankfully, it appears that immigration rights and government benefits should now be more fairly applied to same sex couples.

It’s not time to give up the fight, however. These issues, especially those that concern or involve immigration, remain highly contested. Those opposed to equality will not simply slink back in defeat. They will continue their fight to uphold discriminatory practices that treat LGBTQ individuals as if they are undeserving of the provisions to which straight couples are entitled. With that in mind, you will want to make sure that you and your loved ones have legal help when navigating the immigration process. A qualified professional can assist you with matters related to getting Green cards or immigration benefits for same sex couples.

Advocates for LGBTQ equality have long pointed to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as evidence of the legislative discrimination in America. The law created different rules, definitions, and legal guidelines that prevented same sex couples from having their marriage federally recognized. The Supreme Court found Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional. This section established that marriage under federal law must necessarily be the union of one man and one woman. By striking down this element of DOMA, the Court has paved the way for same sex couples to begin receiving the same Green card and immigration opportunities that heterosexual couples have enjoyed.

These changes have already gone into effect. As such, if you or someone you know is in a same sex marriage, the full array of options and benefits should be at your disposal. It is not as if the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA has instantaneously wiped out prejudicial legislation and treatment throughout America, however. The services of an experienced lawyer or legal team remain highly advisable when seeking immigration benefits for same sex couples. The DOMA ruling only establishes the legal precedent. It is still necessary to make sure that these new standards are respected and applied correctly.

Finding the right immigration attorney to aid you in securing a Green card through same sex marriage or US Citizenship stands to make the process significantly easier. Proper representation will ensure that you are guided each step of the way and are less likely to be bullied or cast aside by the system.

In looking for your legal representation in these matters, it is highly advisable that you seek out an immigration attorney who understands the issues facing the LGBTQ community. Your legal counsel should have experience and demonstrated success in securing immigration benefits for same sex couples. It is essential to devote the proper time and resources to finding the right attorney or legal team. Your selection stands to make a significant impact on your experiences with the immigration process.



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US Citizenship Through Same Sex Marriage

On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court decided that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, indicating in a five to four ruling that the act deprived liberty of people protected by the Fifth Amendment. The decision means that US citizenship through same sex marriage is now possible.

Supreme Court Ruling

The Supreme Court Ruling requires the United States government, although not state governments, to treat marriages equally, whether they are same or opposite sex unions. The ruling now means that because same sex marriage couples are given the same rights as opposite sex couples, those in bi-national relationships may petition the government for legal resident status, and eventually U.S. citizenship.

Because the federal government makes immigration decisions, whether the state they live in allows gay marriage is irrelevant. However, just as heterosexual couples should hire an experienced immigration attorney before taking the steps toward citizenship, so should a couple attempting US citizenship through same sex marriage.

Immigration Process the Same

The immigration process for US citizenship through same sex marriage is the same as that for opposite sex couples. According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a same-sex couple who wants to apply for a family-based immigrant visa should complete a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130). Once the form is received, USCIS determines eligibility and admissibility according to current immigration laws. Unlike before the Supreme Court ruling, USCIS will no longer automatically deny applications from same-sex couples seeking legal residency for one of the spouses.

USCIS, just as they do with opposite sex couples, will conduct an investigation before issuing an immigration card, granting them limited rights within the United States. In order to apply for citizenship, the foreign born spouse must be a permanent resident for at least five years, or you must have been married for three years. Citizenship may also be awarded after honorable service in the US military. The applicant must file an Application for Naturalization and pass the citizenship test before officially becoming a citizen.

State Law

The state where the same-sex couple resides has no bearing on whether the couple can apply for US citizenship. However, USCIS does look at the law of the state where the couple was married to determine if the marriage is valid for the purposes of immigration. Therefore, in order to apply for US citizenship through same sex marriage, the couple must be married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, although they may reside in another state. This is another reason a couple should consult with an immigration attorney who understands issues facing the LGBT community and how immigration laws apply to their particular case.

Judges have begun staying deportation of same-sex couples in compliance with the new regulations. There is no doubt that the decision by the Supreme Court offers LGBT foreign-born spouses the ability to become resident aliens and eventually apply for citizenship, yet it has not streamlined the citizenship process.

Applications submitted by heterosexual couples are denied daily, so it is critical to consult with an immigration attorney who is familiar with same-sex couples, their immigration needs and the law.


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