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Posts Tagged ‘Same Sex IR1 Visa’

27th January 2014

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that Vietnam has legalized same sex wedding ceremonies performed in that Southeast Asian nation. Prior to this announcement it was illegal for same sex couples to have a marriage ceremony performed in Vietnam and also illegal for same sex couples to cohabit without fear of government reprisal. It should be noted that these recent measures only allow same sex couples to have a marriage ceremony, notwithstanding the fact that such ceremonies will have no legal recognition in Vietnam (or elsewhere). However, many LGBT rights activists believe that this is a significant step towards eventual marriage equality in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, in the Kingdom of Thailand the struggle still continues to see the full marriage equality. Unlike Vietnam, Thailand has allowed same sex marriage ceremonies within their jurisdiction for some time. It should also be noted that Thailand is one of the most tolerant nations in Southeast Asia when it comes to LGBT issues. However, the law in Thailand still stipulates that a legally recognized marriage is a union between one man and one woman. There are many activists in the Kingdom hoping to change these rules in order to allow same sex couples the right to get married. With recent political turmoil in the Kingdom and uncertainty surrounding upcoming elections it remains to be seen whether any change to the current law will speedily occur, but some believe that the tolerant attitude in Thailand will lead to changes in the law especially in light of the fact that recent proposals in the Thai parliament would, if adopted, allow same sex couples to legalize their marriages.

The issue of same sex marriage legalization is of concern to many same-sex bi-national couples since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision granting federal recognition of same sex unions. One result of this decision was that same sex couples and spouses are now eligible to receive United States visa benefits in the same manner as different sex couples. Therefore, visas such as the CR-1 visa and IR-1 visa are now available to same sex couples who are already married. Although this may not be a highly sought after category in Southeast Asia at this time as no jurisdiction in the region currently recognizes same sex marriage, it could be of substantial importance in coming years as laws may be amended to equalize marriage laws for the LGBT community. Meanwhile, officials at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) as well as the Department of State have noted that same sex couples, where one of the partners is American, who maintain a bona fide intention to marry in the USA may be eligible for the K-1 visa (more commonly referred to as a fiance visa). This type of visa allows the foreign fiance of an American citizen to travel to the United States for 90 days for the express purpose of getting married and filing for adjustment of status to Lawful Permanent Residence.

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2nd May 2010

The issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform seems to be more hotly debated as the mid-term Congressional elections in the United States approach. Recently, President Barack Obama was quoted as saying:

What has become increasingly clear is that we can no longer wait to fix our broken immigration system, which Democrats and Republicans alike agree doesn’t work. It’s unacceptable to have 11 million people in the United States who are living here illegally and outside of the system. I have repeatedly said that there are some essential components that must be in immigration legislation. It must call for stronger border security measures, tougher penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants and clearer rules for controlling future immigration. And it must require those who are here illegally to get right with the law, pay penalties and taxes, learn English, pass criminal background checks and admit responsibility before they are allowed to get in line and eventually earn citizenship. The outline presented today includes many of these elements. The next critical step is to iron out the details of a bill. We welcome that discussion, and my Administration will play an active role in engaging partners on both sides of the aisle to work toward a bipartisan solution that is based on the fundamental concept of accountability that the American people expect and deserve.

Many argue that the United States Immigration system needs to be modified as it is proving to be too inflexible when it comes to dealing with some of the important immigration problems of the day. A case in point is the debate on Same Sex US Immigration benefits for bi-national couples. At present, same-sex bi-national couples cannot receive the same family immigration benefits as different sex couples due to provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In short these couples cannot receive a same sex marriage visa. Many hope that by placing specific legislative language akin to the provisions of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) into the Comprehensive Immigration bill this policy of providing disproportionate benefits will come to an end.

Overall, the current immigration system has improved for those seeking immediate relative immigration benefits (IR1, CR1, IR2, etc). For example, the  National Visa Center has begun administratively closing K3 Visa applications as the need for such expedited travel documents is felt to be no longer necessary for those seeking immigrant benefits since USCIS no longer has a high backlog for such petitions. The K1 visa is still processing in the same manner as it has in the past. However, some of the preference petition categories are still processing quite slowly. Also, this brief assessment does not look at employment based immigration issues associated with visa categories such as the L1 visa and the E2 visa nor does it begin to tackle to issue of undocumented workers and immigrants in the USA.

For further information on this issue please see: Fiance Visa Thailand.

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