If Married, You Can Sponsor Your Same-Sex Partner For A Green Card
Thanks to the repeal of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), if you are in a same-sex marriage with someone with an immigrant visa, you have the right to sponsor them for a green card. This is a huge advancement for same-sex marriage rights, and if you're thinking about sponsoring your same-sex partner, these four questions can help.
What if Your State Doesn't Recognize Same-Sex Marriages?
Only a handful of states actually recognize same-sex marriages. If you live in one of these states but got married in a state or a foreign country that does recognize same-sex marriage, you can still sponsor your same-sex partner. When it comes to immigration laws, it only matters where you got married, not where you live. On top of that, immigration laws are federal, so they outweigh any state or local laws.
Do Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships Count?
Civil unions and domestic partnerships are much like marriage, and you get many of the great benefits of being married. However, to be able to sponsor someone for a green card, you must have an immediate relative relationship with them (spouse, parents, etc.). Unfortunately, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services does not view civil unions and domestic partnerships as an immediate relative relationship, so in this scenario, you probably won't be able to sponsor your same-sex partner.
Is The Process Any Different for Same-Sex Couples?
For same-sex couples, applying for a green card is the same as it is for non-same-sex couples. However, you may have to do more work to prove your relationship. Proving you're married is easy, but proving you're actually in a relationship may prove harder. Many same-sex couples still feel the need to hide their relationship, so they don't have the same proof of their relationship as other couples. Luckily, there is a lot of proof you can use to prove your relationship, including emails, letters, mail to the same address, photographs, affidavits by friends/family and even a joint Netflix account.
What if Your Partner Has a Temporary Visa or Unlawful Status?
If your partner is in the US on a temporary visa, you shouldn't have a problem getting them a green card. The real problem arises when your partner has an expired visa or another unlawful status. Many LGBT and immigrant activists are fighting to change these rules and blame the old restrictions on same-sex marriage as part of the problem. Many of these immigrants may have wanted to get married and apply for a green card before their visa expired, but they couldn't because either same-sex marriage wasn't legal or because of DOMA. Staying after their visa expired was their only option to stay together.
Allowing partners of same-sex marriages to apply for a green card is a giant leap forward. However, because of the past laws regarding same-sex marriages and immigration, you may have a hard time proving your relationship or getting your partner their green card. If that's the case, contact an lawyer that specializes in same sex immigration law to schedule a consultation.