If you are in a same-sex marriage and you want to sponsor your husband or wife for permanent residency in the United States, you may worry about whether USCIS recognizes LGTBQ relationships. Although the federal government has recognized marriage equality since 2015, these concerns make sense. After all, some states have been slow to update family laws.
Fortunately, USCIS recognized same-sex marriages even before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision. Furthermore, California has established policies surrounding family laws that fully allow for equal inclusion. As such, you should not experience any trouble from local or state levels of governments, either. This is especially good news when collecting documentation.
DOMA decision changed USCIS policy
For a long time, U.S. immigration laws discriminated against LGBTQ couples. Then, in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. As a result, President Obama directed USCIS to begin reviewing immigration visa petitions with same-sex marriages in the same way that the agency reviews heterosexual marriages.
Pardon of inadmissibility also applies
In addition to recognizing same-sex marriages when processing Green Card and other visa applications, the 2013 ruling also extends to pardon of inadmissibility. When a U.S. citizen marries someone who immigrates without the required visa, the law typically pardons the immigrating spouse in certain hardship situations. This pardoning right also applies to same-sex couples.
Applying for any kind of family-based immigration can be a stressful experience, no matter who you are, but if you have historically faced legal difficulties, you may have additional fears to consider. Nonetheless, you can rest assured that all U.S. citizens have the right to sponsor the person that they love as long as they meet eligibility requirements. This is true regardless of sexual orientation.