Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘permanent partner visa’

1st October 2010

Those who follow this blog frequently may take note of the fact that the administration carefully follows the issues associated with LGBT Immigration rights in the United States of America. In a recent posting by Melanie Nathan on the website LezGetReal.com it was noted that LGBT immigration legislation may be introduced in the US Congress quite soon:

Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey is expected to introduce comprehensive immigration legislation before the Senate adjourns this week for the midterm recess, according to Politico, and a source tells The Advocate that the legislation will be LGBT-inclusive.

In the past, there have been other attempts by Federal legislators to rectify the current legal restrictions placed on LGBT bi-national couples when it comes to the issue of obtaining US Immigration benefits. To continue to quote directly from LezGetReal.com:

There are an estimated 36,000 (minimum the number since the determination in the year 2000 – also not taking account of social media and current increase in internet meeting) Gays and Lesbians who are either American citizens or residents (all referred to as Americans for the purpose of this article,) who are in love and relationship with a foreigner. Gay and lesbians are denied equality under the Federal Immigration laws of this Country, to sponsor same-sex partners or  State recognized spouses for immigration (greencards) to the USA.

LGBT couples (and the appellation LGBT includes Bi-sexual and Transgender couples and individuals as well as Lesbian or Gay couples and individuals) are currently barred from receiving the same family based immigration benefits as different-sex couples. This restriction is imposed pursuant to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA prevents same sex couples (even those lawfully married under state law) from receiving recognition of their marriage in the eyes of the Federal government (and the benefits which may arise therefrom, including immigration benefits such as the K3 visa, CR1 visa, or IR1 visa or in cases where a couple intends to enter into a marriage in the USA: a K1 visa). There are those who argue that application of DOMA violates the doctrine of States’ Rights. At the same time, others point to the violation of the civil rights of the American Citizen (or Lawful Permanent Resident) petitioners whose Constitutional rights may be being violated through continued enforcement of DOMA. That said, the issue remains a highly charged political matter, to quote further from the aforementioned website:

So here we are – a Congress that may well go into lame duck, a Congress that failed to repeal DADT, that showed no compassion for the children of the immigrant DREAM ACT – and a UAFA barely in the conscience of leadership, unknown to mainstream America and also barely in the minds of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers. The question is are we going to be in the Menendez Bill as a pawn, a promise or yet another wedge that will render Immigration Reform impossible in this political climate.

Remember it IS the American who lacks the Equality – and is being discriminated against.  ALL Americans in committed relationships, except gays and lesbians,  have the right to remain in the USA with the person whom they love.

It is not the immigrant per se, who has the right, as immigration is a privilege afforded a foreigner; it is the American who has the right and it is indeed a Civil Right and a Human Rights issue.

The UAFA noted above is an acronym for the Uniting American Families Act, a bill that has, in different forms, been floating around the US Congress for some time. One of the major proponents of this legislation is Representative Jerrold Nadler who has repeatedly supported and introduced legislation which would give equal immigration rights to LGBT couples. It is interesting that the above cited piece brings up the issue of the American Citizen’s rights with regard to US Immigration matters. Although foreign nationals do not necessarily have the same rights under the US Constitution as Citizens there is no doubt that Americans are protected by the provisions of the Constitution. It is this authors opinion that this situation may very well be ultimately decided by the US Courts rather than the US legislature as there are currently two cases pending in two different circuits which could result in the full or partial repeal of DOMA. With regard to immigration, DOMA compels the US Federal government to restrict US family immigration benefits to different-sex couples. Notwithstanding that jurisdictions such as Massachusetts allow same sex marriage. Therefore, the Federal government may be in violation of the “Full Faith and Credit” Clause of the US Constitution by failing to provide equal immigration benefits to same sex couples married in a jurisdiction in the US where such unions are lawful.

Whether the issue of LGBT immigration rights will ultimately be resolved in the US Courts or the US Congress remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: the issue has many implications from both a legal and political perspective.

For related information please see: Same Sex Visa.

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16th June 2009

The White House has been under increasing pressure since Obama’s inauguration to provide equal benefits to same sex couples under United States law. Recently Hillary Clinton reversed previous State Department policy by providing same sex partners of State Department employees with most of the benefits extended to different sex couples (including diplomatic passports for partners).

From the Associated Press: “President Barack Obama, under growing criticism for not seeking to end the ban on openly gay men and women in the military, is extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.”

The question is: will Obama go further in extending benefits to same-sex couples? Specifically, does Obama feel that this gesture is enough to placate the Gay community or will he go further in fulfilling the campaign promises calling for greater equality?

Of particular importance from an Immigration perspective: will the Uniting American Families Act be passed? This law would provide equalized immigration benefits for same-sex couples. Under the Defense of Marriage Act same sex couples are barred from receiving many of the immigration benefits accorded to different sex couples.

The feeling of many American Immigration Lawyers is that UAFA, or some bill similar to the UAFA, will eventually become law. The question is: when?

Hopefully for these families who are being kept apart by Immigration restrictions the UAFA will pass sooner rather than later. The task now is to keep pressure on politicians to pass the legislation. Many believe that Comprehensive Immigration Reform will have some sort of UAFA-like provision rolled into it. This would probably be the most expedient way of dealing with the same-sex immigration situation. However, there is the possibility that a concession such as adding “permanent partner” to the list of those eligible for family immigration benefits, as called for in UAFA, could be cast aside in a committee room or in back room “horse trading” in an effort to save CIR.

The fate of the Uniting American Families Act remains to be seen, but hopefully this legislation will pass. Until the day it is signed into law, no one can say for sure if same-sex immigration benefits will ever be granted

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26th May 2009

The American State Department, as of May 24th, has begun offering benefits to same sex partners of American diplomats and State Department employees. This comes after many years of the US State Department refusing to grant benefits to same sex partners and spouses. The justification that the state department previously used was based upon the Defense of Marriage Act. State Department officials often sighted DOMA claiming that it precluded allowing benefits for same sex partners.

The current move made by the State Department signals a major shift in state department policy on the issue of same sex domestic issues. Of great import is the fact that among other benefits, same sex partners will be issued diplomatic passports along with their diplomat partner or spouse.

In a State Department memo circulated pursuant to this regulatory change Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton hinted that this change was overdue. Secretary Clinton stated, “At bottom, the department will provide these benefits for both opposite-sex and same-sex partners because it is the right thing to do,”

This begs the question that if, at bottom, these benefits ought to be conferred because “it is the right thing to do,” then isn’t granting same sex couple’s US Family Immigration benefits the right thing to do as well? The Uniting of American Families Act is a piece of legislation that would allow US citizens to obtain US visas for their alien same sex partner.

In this situation, the US State Department has disregarded the spirit of the Defense of Marriage Act by conferring these benefits upon same sex partners and will likely prevail in doing so because offering these benefits is a prerogative of the Secretary of State and under the bailiwick of the executive branch of the United States government (Under the doctrine of Separation of Powers, there are certain areas in which each branch of government cannot be challenged by another branch).

The UAFA also subtly avoids the restrictions imposed by the Defense of Marriage Act by creating a new category of US Visa under the United States Immigration an Nationality Act. This new visa category would allow an alien to obtain a US visa based upon family relationship if the meet the definition of “permanent partner.”

As we have previously stated on this blog, the US Immigration implictions of the enactment of the Uniting of American Families Act would be a watershed for Same Sex immigration rights as well as a very interesting case study in conflict of laws.

For more information on US Immigration from Thailand Please see:

K1 Visa Thailand

Fiance Visa Thailand

K3 Visa Thailand

(Please note that the information contained herein is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice. No lawyer client relationship is formed between author and reader).

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