Since the repeal of DOMA in June of 2013, U.S. citizens and green card holders can petition for their same-sex spouses to reside permanently in the U.S. However, many same-sex couples worry that their application will be handled differently because they are not an opposite sex couple. Fortunately, same-sex couples are treated no differently than the millions of other couples who have applied and been approved for green cards.
The green card application process for same-sex couples is identical to that of an opposite sex couple. The application process requires no extra steps or special restrictions. The first step in applying for a green card is completing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Evidence that the marriage is bona-fide must also be included with the form. This evidence may include the marriage certificate, wedding photos, photos of children, evidence of joint home ownership, or joint utility bills to name a few.
USCIS also recognizes that for some same-sex couples, providing this type of evidence may be difficult if the relationship has not been made public in the face of discriminatory laws or social prejudice. In cases such as these, alternate evidence may be submitted. This may include emails and letters between the couple, affidavits from friends and family, or any joint account the couple may hold – even a joint museum membership or Netflix account. Regardless of orientation, all couples must be prepared to provide extra evidence and a suitable explanation to USCIS if their application is lacking in this area.
Once USCIS has approved the I-130, the next step is to ask the government to create the green card. This can be done through one of two methods: adjustment of status or visa processing. Each pathway varies widely in terms of processing times, cost, and residency requirements. The ability to work and travel while the green card is pending also differs between the two.
Since the repeal of DOMA, Berardi Immigration Law has helped dozens of same-sex couples immigrate to the United States. If you are interested in applying for a marriage-based green card, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!