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Same-Sex Marriage and Family Immigration Rights

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After years of being denied certain rights by the government, it’s understandable why members of the LGBTQ community often worry whether they have the same family immigration rights as others. Fortunately, the answer is yes, people in same-sex marriages can sponsor their spouse and other family members the same way married heterosexual couples can. Granted, there may be unique challenges along the way, so you should hire an experienced immigration lawyer as you consider sponsoring loved ones to come to the U.S.

What Spouse and Family Immigration Options Do You Have?

Whether you’re in a same-sex or heterosexual marriage, the U.S. government offers you the same rights when it comes to using your status as a citizen or permanent resident to help family immigrate. This means you can use a variety of visa programs to get your loved ones to the U.S.

For instance, if you’re a U.S. citizen married to a foreign national, you can apply for a marriage visa so your spouse can come to the U.S. to live with you as a permanent resident. They can then pursue naturalization after a few years if they wish to become a citizen.

If you’re engaged to someone outside of the U.S., you can apply for the K-1 visa so they can come to the U.S. Once they arrive, you’ll have 90 days to marry them so they can become a permanent resident.

If you and your spouse are citizens or permanent residents living in the U.S. as a same-sex couple, you can use family-based immigration to help close relatives immigrate to the U.S. More specifically, if you’re both citizens, you can sponsor your unmarried minor children or parents through the immediate relative visa. If you’re permanent residents, you can sponsor your unmarried minor children so they can live with you and your spouse in the U.S.

What Elements Do You Have to Prove for Your Immigration Case?

Same-sex couples must prove the same information as straight couples in immigration cases. So, if you’re pursuing a marriage visa, you must prove your legal status in the U.S. You then have to show that you have a valid, bona fide marriage.

This means you need to prove you did not get married just for the green card, so you should focus on showing the USCIS that you and your spouse have had a committed relationship long before applying for a marriage visa. Some examples of evidence you can show include:

  • Photos of you together over the years
  • Emails, text messages, or phone records showing regular communication
  • Bank statements showing combined finances
  • Bills and deeds featuring both your names and a shared home address
  • Photos of you spending time with each other’s family
  • Birth certificates or adoption certificates for the children you have together
  • Affidavits from family and friends stating you’re married

Your immigration attorney can advise you on any other evidence you need for a marriage visa or other immigration options. If you fail to present sufficient evidence, your application could be denied, so it’s important to get legal help.

What Are Possible Challenges in Same-Sex Marriage Immigration Cases?

While you and your spouse have the same rights as any other couple, there are some possible difficulties you could face for certain visas. A lawyer can help you navigate these.

For example, if your partner is from a country that does not recognize gay marriage, you can’t apply for a marriage visa. However, you can apply for a K-1 visa so they can come to the U.S. and marry you within 90 days. At that point, they will be in a valid marriage and can apply for a marriage green card.

Another possible challenge for same-sex couples is proving they’re in a bona fide marriage, as fear of social repercussions might have kept them from being open about their relationship. If this is the case for you, you might not have photos with each other’s families or affidavits from friends confirming your marriage.

Fortunately, your lawyer will help find other ways to prove your relationship, such as bills, phone records, and other documents. Experienced attorneys are used to resolving issues within unique cases, so rest assured they can help. Call The Chidolue Law Firm at 407-995-6567 if you’re ready for legal guidance.

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