Every year, thousands of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents fall in love with a citizen of a foreign country. They marry, raise a family, and contribute to their communities and their country. Entering the country via marriage and becoming a permanent resident based on marriage has several benefits over other methods of obtaining a visa or green card. This includes exemptions from quotas and advantageous rules regarding when an immigration case is considered “open.”
Until recently, same-sex couples could not access the same rules for entering the country as other couples, due to the federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and its rules regarding who “counted” as a married couple. Since the U.S. Supreme Court finally struck down DOMA this year, however, same-sex partners may enter the United States on the same basis as other couples, according to the State Department. The federal government is no longer allowed to discriminate-- when granting marriage-based visas or green cards-- on the basis of the sexual orientation of the couple.
While this change marks a major step forward in the rights of same-sex couples, the situation is still challenging for these individuals. The State Department’s rules require, among other things, that the couple be married in a jurisdiction that recognizes their legal marriage. Currently, only 15 U.S. states and the District of Columbia recognize such marriages for same-sex spouses. The remaining 35 states range from having no provisions for same-sex marriage to banning it by constitutional amendment – severely limiting the legal marriage options for these couples. This limits their access to marriage-based visas when compared to other couples.
Working with an experienced immigration attorney is one way to help level the playing field and get the authorizations you and your new spouse need. Attorney Scott McVarish is dedicated to protecting the civil rights of same-sex couples and has protected the rights of homosexual teachers, which you can learn more about by clicking here.
To learn more about your rights and legal courses of action, contact the Immigration Law Office of Los Angeles, P.C. today at (800) 792-9889.