During Pride Month – and throughout the year – important emphasis is placed on the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. Often LGBTQ foreign nationals have questions about how U.S. immigration law applies to the LGBTQ community and same-sex couples. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) immigrants may face unique challenges and obstacles in their home countries, and in moving to the United States. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about immigration and LGBTQ+ individuals.
Are Same-Sex Couples Eligible for Immigration Benefits?
A same-sex couple must take additional steps to be eligible for family immigration benefits. An LGBTQ+ couple must ensure that their marriage is recognized in the state or country they were married in and the state they are residing in when they apply to sponsor a same-sex spouse and their children. Same-sex marriage is legal in Illinois; same-sex couples who are married in Illinois (or other jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriages) are eligible for family-based immigration benefits.
Are Same-Sex Couples Eligible for Green Cards?
Yes, a person can sponsor their same-sex spouse to become a lawful permanent resident, commonly called a green card holder. To qualify for a K-1 visa, same-sex fiancés must meet the same criteria as any other K-1 immigrant and take specific actions once in the United States. Same-sex marriage is legal in Illinois. Same-sex couples who are married in Illinois are eligible for family-based immigration benefits.
Can a Green Card Holder Petition for Their Same-Sex Spouse?
A Green Card holder can petition for a visa for their same-sex spouse and their children who are unmarried and under the age of 21. The petitioner names them on the initial visa petition, Form I-130, to start the process for them. Eventually, each family member must submit their own applications for a Green Card.
Do LGBTQ+ Individuals Require Special Documentation?
The types of immigration documentation needed by LGBTQ+ individuals and couples should include:
• marriage certificate
• birth certificate
• divorce judgments or documents showing the termination of prior relationships
• marriage bona fides
• any other relevant documents supporting their relationship
• USCIS no longer requires individuals who have undergone sex reassignment surgery to provide documentation to prove their gender reassignment. An amended birth certificate, passport, court order or medical documentation recognizing the new gender meets documentation requirements when a gender change occurs during the immigration process.
Are LGBTQ+ Refugees Welcome in the United States?
When he was elected, President Biden announced plans to expand immigration opportunities for LGBTQ refugees from countries where they are persecuted or where same-sex marriages are not recognized. If you were harmed or fear harm in your home country based on your sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV positive status, you may be able to apply for protection in the United States.
What Happens to LGBTQ+ Immigrants in Detention?
If you or someone you know is detained by immigration, no matter what their sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV positive status is, they have the same rights to deportation defense by an experienced deportation defense attorney who may be able to show the immigration court that you were wrong to be placed in removal proceedings or submit a request for asylum.
An experienced immigration lawyer can help LGBTQ+ individuals and same-sex couple families determine their eligibility for services, and the steps to take. Mario Godoy and the other immigration attorneys at the Godoy Law Office can assess your situation and advise you on your best options. Call today at 630-912-0322.
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AREAS WE SERVE: Godoy Law Office serves the entire Chicago, Illinois area including DuPage, Cook, Kane, Will and Lake Counties