What You Should Know About Same-Sex Marriage Green Cards

What You Should Know About Same-Sex Marriage Green Cards

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the same legal right to marry in the United States as heterosexual couples under the Fourteenth Amendment. As a result and for immigration purposes, USCIS recognizes same-sex and heterosexual marriages as the same and allows individuals to petition for immigration benefits for their same-sex spouse.

Do You Have to Be Married to Petition for a Gay Marriage Green Card?

You and your partner must be married to receive any immigration benefits. Showing that you’ve lived together and had a long-term relationship will help both of you prove to USCIS that your relationship is valid or bona fide, not just for immigration benefits. Since all states must legally recognize gay marriage, your location doesn’t matter.

Can a Transgender Partner Still Receive Immigration Benefits?

As long as all immigration requirements have been met, transgender individuals married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse can receive immigration benefits. Your partner’s eligibility will depend on the following:

➤ Your status (U.S. Citizen, Lawful Permanent Resident, or other)

➤ Your partner’s method of entry to the U.S. (with a visa or illegally)

➤ Whether your partner has any immigration violations or criminal offenses

It’s important to note that not all immigration violations or criminal convictions will prohibit your same-sex or transgender partner from receiving immigration benefits. In addition, some issues may not have significant value for immigration purposes, while others may be resolved with a waiver.

What’s the First Step in Petitioning for a Same-Sex Spouse?

After you and your spouse have gotten married, you should contact an experienced immigration attorney who can help you determine whether your partner qualifies for lawful permanent residency (green card) or other immigration benefits. Beyond the required forms and documents, you should provide some of the following:

➤ Proof of joint bank account/s

➤ Utility bills

➤ Joint lease agreements

➤ Joint property statements

➤ Photos of shared life experiences

➤ Affidavits from friends and family

➤ Any other supporting documents

Can You Apply for a Fiancée Visa if You’re Engaged to Be Married?

Yes. If you are engaged to be married to your same-sex partner, you can file a petition for a fiancée visa. Once filed, it will go to the National Visa Center (NVC) for a background check and to the specific embassy where your partner would apply for the visa. Your fiancée would then be allowed to enter the country, and you would need to get married within 90 days. After that, you can apply for a Marriage-based green card.

Who is eligible for immigration benefits?

You can file a petition on behalf of your foreign national partner if they entered the U.S. legally. In addition to the basic requirements, your petition should include documented evidence that your relationship is legitimate.

If your partner last entered the country illegally, you may file a petition on their behalf. In addition, your partner will need to be the beneficiary of a hardship waiver; otherwise, they will be subject to a three- or ten-year bar if they have to leave the country to obtain an immigrant visa. Regardless of the scenario, both of you will be required to interview with an immigration officer to confirm that your relationship is legitimate.

If your foreign national partner is abroad, you may file for a fiancée visa, or an immigrant visa if you’re married. In both cases, you’ll be required to show documentation to prove the legitimacy of your relationship. Alternatively, you can also choose to get married in another country where same-sex marriage is legal.

Finally, in cases where the foreign partner is already in removal proceedings, you may need to obtain permission to marry from the immigration judge in bond proceedings, seek an adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident, or have the U.S. citizen spouse serve as a qualifying relative for purposes of Cancellation of Removal, or a waiver.

Get Help with Your Same-Sex Marriage Green Card

If you’d like to petition for a same-sex marriage green card, it’s best to work with an experienced immigration attorney, as mistakes in the process can lead to delays in your case or having your application denied. Ranchod Law Group has been helping same-sex couples understand U.S. immigration law, prepare forms and documents, and determine the best course of action for complex scenarios for over a decade. Please contact us at (916) 613-3553 to schedule a consultation or email us at info@ranchodlaw.com.