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Posts Tagged ‘gay us visa’

31st July 2010

In recent postings on this blog this author has discussed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the ongoing US Court proceedings that are aimed at overturning this legislation in order to accord same-sex bi-national couples with privileges equal to their different-sex counterparts. Recently, a Court in Massachusetts found that the provisions of DOMA run contrary to the United States Constitution. As a result, this decision could greatly modify the framework by which Immigration petitions are adjudicated. Apparently, the Court wishes to delay radical modification of US Immigration law and procedure until such time as all issues can be addressed in an appellate proceeding. It would appear that many same-sex bi-national couples are waiting with baited breathe to see the practical implications of the recent Court decision overturning certain aspects of DOMA. However, there is some delay as the Immigration Equality blog explains.  To quote directly from the Immigration Equality blog as of July 27, 2010:

Many of you have had questions about the status of the DOMA case. Just like you, we are waiting for the court to issue an order which should be happening any day now. Once the order is issued, there will be an automatic 14 day stay. We are almost certain that during that 14 day period, the government will file an appeal and we are almost certain that the stay will remain in effect during the course of the appeal. But we will keep you updated as soon as we learn of any further developments.

Those reading this post are probably curious about the practical ramifications of the “stay” of this decision. The “stay” means that the current mechanism for adjudicating US Immigration petitions will remain in place, at least for now. Therefore, those Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents with a same sex loved one living abroad will still be unable to petition and apply for same sex family visa benefits pursuant to the provisions of DOMA. Many feel, and this author concurs, that the American appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court, are likely to find DOMA unconstitutional pursuant to American legal doctrines such as “Full Faith and Credit” and “States’ Rights“. However, as the issue remains unresolved it is unwise for anyone to make any irrevocable decisions regarding US LGBT Immigration until a final judgment is handed down without reservation.

It should be noted that judicial intervention is not the only method available for those wishing to see same sex visa benefits accorded in the same manner for those in a same sex marriage or relationship as those in a different sex marriage or relationship. The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would provide a statutory framework whereby same sex “permanent partners” could be granted the same Immigration benefits as those in a different-sex marriage or relationship. Although UAFA-like legislation has seen unfailing support from legislators such as Jerry Nadler, many feel that the issue of LGBT Immigration rights will ultimately be adjudicated by the US Courts.

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3rd April 2010

As frequent readers of this blog may be aware, two of the most hotly debated issues in the realm of United States Immigration are: Comprehensive Immigration Reform and US Family Immigration benefits for LGBT bi-national couples. A seemingly unrelated issue is that of the upcoming United States Census. Recently, the LGBT immigration blog Immigration discussed how the US Census and the issues of Comprehensive Immigration Reform and LGBT Visas are connected:

“Research conducted by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) shows an excellent reason for undocumented immigrants to participate in the census: They can actually use the completed census form as proof of continuous physical presence in the U.S., should Congress enact a path to citizenship, with requires such proof for residency, in the future. Additionally, certified copies of completed census forms can be used as evidence of continuous presence in the U.S. under certain current laws as well. These include the amnesty program under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA); amelioration provisions of the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act of 2000; and for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) (for when one cannot return due to war, natural disasters etc.) under the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 244…There are undocumented immigrants living in the US in same-sex binational relationships as well, and they should be counted, too. A recent Immigration Equality client, living here with his American partner for nearly 20 years, was detained upon trying to re-enter the United States after going home to visit his dying mother. By participating in the confidential census process, couples like these can be “counted,” and give voice, through their numbers, to the very real plight of binational couples who have, for too long, remain too hidden in the shadows.”

As explained above, proof of having participated in a US Census can be used as evidence to show one’s continuous residence in the United States of America. Therefore, participating in the Census can be a beneficial endeavor for certain individuals.

It is interesting to note how the issue of undocumented aliens intersects with the issue of LGBT Immigration rights as these two groups would otherwise seem to have interests that are unrelated, but at this time same sex bi-national and undocumented aliens are in legally precarious position. In this author’s opinion, Comprehensive Immigration Reform could be the solution to both of these groups’ problems, but this author believes that it is more likely that the US Courts will deal with the issue of same sex immigration when they adjudicate the Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). However, the outcome with regard to all of these issues remains to be seen.

For information about US Immigration from the Kingdom of Thailand please see: US Visa Thailand.

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11th November 2009

There are many people throughout the United States who seem more and more unhappy with the current state of gay rights issues. This unhappiness seems particularly acute when discussing the issue of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act). Under current United States Federal law same sex marriages are not recognized by the Federal Government. Therefore, United States Immigration benefits based upon marriage cannot be extended to the same-sex partners of US citizens as same sex marriage is not recognized as a “marriage” for purposes of US Immigration.

Many have advocated either the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act or the enactment of some federal legislation which would allow for same sex immigration benefits notwithstanding DOMA. A recent example of the latter is the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which would provide US Immigration benefits to “permanent partners” of US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. Most efforts to provide same sex immigration benefits have been in vain which has created frustration in the LGBT community as well as amongst advocates for civil rights.

In recent months there has been talk of repealing the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in the US military. Also, the US State Department has issued internal rules granting Immigration benefits, in the form of diplomatic and official passports, to the same sex partners of State Department employees working abroad. Many feel that these are “half measures,” simply designed to placate advocates for LGBT rights.  The following, quoted from this source, sums up the feeling of consternation:

Noticeably absent from this civil rights agenda is the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. Apparently a Democratic majority in the House, a Democratic super-majority in the Senate, and a Democratic president in the White House isn’t quite enough to get a repeal passed. Of course, other major issues are confronting the nation, and issues dealing with same-sex marriage often bring with them volatile politics. But, with the prospect of trimmed Democratic majorities in Congress after the 2010 midterm elections, is it really unreasonable for the LGBT community to expect action on DOMA now, as opposed to potentially a decade from now, maybe later? [Emphasis in original]

As can be seen from the above quote, the real issue for many is the repeal of DOMA. This legislation lies at the heart of most legal restrictions placed upon same-sex couples in the United States. Currently, the legality of DOMA is also being weighed in the US Federal Courts, but the outcome is far from certain. The repeal of DOMA is likely to remain a controversial issue in the future. A repeal of these restrictions will likely mark a watershed moment for American Civil Liberties.

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4th June 2009

On June 3rd the United States Senate held hearings on the Uniting American Families Act for the first time. This was a historic event because it marked the first time in history that the Senate held hearing regarding Same-Sex Family Immigration matters.

For those unfamiliar with the UAFA, it is a bill that would add the term “Permanent Partner” to the list of those eligible for US Immigration benefits based upon a family relationship. Under the Defense of Marriage Act, the Federal government only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman. The UAFA creates a new category of family member, namely: Permanent Partners.

A note of importance, the President of AILA , The American Immigration Lawyers Association, submitted a statement to the committee supporting the enactment of the Uniting of American Families Act. An interesting quote from the statement:

“[S]ame sex partners of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents are not recognized as family members under current immigration law, no matter how long-term or committed the relationship. This outdated and biased definition forces U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to make unconscionable, life-altering decisions to either relocate to a foreign country or permanently separate from their loved ones.”

The hearing was punctuated by the heart wrenching story of an immigrant partner who was taken away by US Immigration officers and deported in full view of her partner and family members in the USA.  The witness said on the record, “I was put into a van with two men in yellow jump suits and chains and searched like a criminal, in a way I have only seen in movies.”

On a related topic, the American State Department recently changed internal rules in order to allow same-sex partners of State Department employees the same rights as different sex couples. US Secretary of State was quoted as saying such rule changes were the “right thing to do.”

Current Immigration law still does not allow American Immigration benefits for same sex loved ones of American Citizens, but the above changes in guidelines and proposed enactments would greatly equalize immigration law to the benefit of same sex couples. It should be noted that this proposed legislation would have no effect on the Defense of Marriage Act, nor would it have any effect with regard to gay marriage. Instead, it would grant immigration benefits to persons previously not qualified to receive them.

(Nothing contained herein is to be construed as legal advice. No lawyer/client relationship is created by reading this post)

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19th April 2009

The Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Aliens

Earlier this month President Barack Obama spoke with the President of Mexico about the issue of providing a path to citizenship for undocumented aliens in the United States. The call for comprehensive immigration reform has been brought up a great deal during the new President’s fledgling term. It is an issue that ignites passions on both sides of the aisle particularly in an economy environment in a state of decline. There is something to be said for the idea that an amnesty needs to be called to get undocumented aliens “out of the shadows,” even if a recession is threatening the jobs of American Citizens. The other side of the coin is the idea that illegal immigrants are exactly what their name implies: “illegal,” and should not in the end be rewarded for circumventing or outright violating Immigration regulations.

Many believe that the notion of America as a nation of immigrants and a melting pot of different cultures should compel the US government to make some sort of provision for granting some sort of legal status to currently undocumented aliens. Admittedly, this argument holds some merit particularly where the undocumented alien is working in the US and is not a burden to the state.

Family Immigration and Visas for Same Sex Couples

Concurrently with Comprehensive Immigration Reform there is another bill in the US Congress seeking to give another form of prospective Immigrants legal status in the United States that they do not currently retain. The Uniting of American Families Act (UAFA) seeks to add the term “permanent partner,” to the list of those eligible for US Family Immigration Benefits under US Immigration regulations.

Under the Defense of Marriage Act a marriage is recognized as a legal union between a man and a woman. Therefore, this act effectively bars same sex couples from receiving US federal recognition for a marriage (including in US states where same sex marriages and civil unions are legal). The upshot of this legislation is that it precludes same sex couples from obtaining US Immigration benefits if one of the partners is a foreign national.  The addition of  the new term “permanent partner,”  to the American Immigration and Nationality Act would allow same sex marriage and family visas without creating a legal conflict with the Defense of Marriage Act.

A New Category of Visa to be created under the UAFA?

Some lawyers and legal scholars have speculated as to what type of family visa a permanent partner would be entitled to. The term itself would seem to rule out the K1 visa because it is a fiancee visa and the use of the word “permanent” contradicts the idea of a fiance visa. At the same time, because the term specifically does not connote “marriage,” it would seem likely that a us marriage visa would be out of the question. Therefore, a “permanent partner” visa will likely be a separate category unto itself that is distinct from other family visa categories. It remains to be seen what the burden of proof will be for obtaining a “permanent partner” visa, but the fact that marriage will not be a legally recognized element for proving the relationship (at least with the Defense of Marriage Act on the books), it is likely that a large amount of evidence will be needed to prove up the bona fides of a permanent partnership.

Both Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the UAFA are necessary steps to dealing with the practical effect of immigration regulations that cause certain groups to “fall through the cracks,” of American Immigration law. However the debate on these issues is resolved, a modicum of uniformity and resolution of these matters is necessary.

Thanks for reading,

For more information about US Immigration please see:

US Visa Thailand

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