Since the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the country, many more New York couples decided to take the plunge and enjoy all of the federal benefits afforded to any married couple. For some, this includes making use of federal immigration laws that allow same-sex spouses who came from another country to seek a green card and eventually citizenship.
Even with the uncertain times in which immigrants currently live here in the United States, a non-U.S. citizen still has rights regardless of sexual orientation.
Immigration considerations for same-sex couples
Essentially, the process remains the same for couples of both different or the same sexes. However, since petitioning for an immigrant spouse to receive residency and citizenship is still relatively new for same-sex couples, you may benefit from knowing the following:
- It could take up to nine months from the time of filing the petition to your spouse receiving a green card if your spouse came to the United States through inspection or a visa.
- It could take as long as a year-and-a-half to go through the same process if your spouse entered the country without going through legal channels. In addition, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requires an I-601a waiver.
- After remaining married for three years as a legal permanent resident, your spouse may apply for citizenship. If your marriage does not last three years, he or she must wait until the expiration of five years.
- You could encounter difficulties if your spouse does not work or earn enough income and doesn't have a sponsor.
- You will have to prove you married in good faith.
- Proving you married in good faith often requires substantial documentation and other evidence. For instance, if your spouse is on your health insurance, the utility bills, your taxes and your bank accounts, those inclusions go a long way toward providing the appropriate evidence.
- If the immigration officer who conducted your interview suspects you did not marry in good faith, he or she may visit your home.
It may seem unfair that you have to prove your marriage is real, but this has nothing to do with your status as a same-sex couple. Instead, it has to do with ensuring that couples do not perpetrate immigration fraud. It may feel like an inquisition, but as long as you answer all questions honestly, you should get through it just fine.