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Recent Changes in Immigration Policies for Same-Sex Couples

The immigration rules for same sex couples in the United States changed significantly in 2013, when the Supreme Court declared a specific section of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Section 3 of that law denied federal benefits to married couples who are not of opposite genders, and that denial extended to immigration.

Approximately one week after the Supreme Court decision, the Secretary of Homeland Security ordered the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review applications of married same-sex couples without objection to gender.

In the past, married couples of the same gender saw their applications denied or placed on hold. Once the definition of marriage was expanded to accommodate couples of LGBT lifestyles, previously denied applications had to be reviewed again without charging applicants a filing fee.

Although it has been three years since the landmark decision, same-sex couples still face some difficulties related to their immigration petitions. The presumption of marriage fraud tends to be higher when USCIS evaluators review applications filed by same-sex couples, particularly when the marriage was recent or when spouses kept their relationship secret due to societal pressures.

Same-sex spouses seeking immigration benefits are more likely to retain an immigration attorney in San Diego to help them with their filings, and there is a good reason for this: While public opinion is clearly shifting in support of the LGBT community, unconscious bias is still an issue that same-sex couples may encounter when dealing with USCIS.

Some of the elements used by USCIS caseworkers to determine whether a marriage was entered into good faith may not be present in same-sex relationships. Traditional wedding photos and a long history of cohabitation are sometimes elusive for LGBT couples. In their absence, USCIS evaluators may develop a prejudice as they review I-130 petitions.

Seasoned immigration lawyers are familiar with the bias and prejudice that USCIS employees may develop when it comes to reviewing petitions filed by same-sex couples. Petitioners can be easily discouraged by delays or denials; this is not the case with immigration attorneys who can call out USCIS bias or prejudice and appeal a holdup or rejection if needed.

For helping filing a fiancé visa or other family immigration visas, reach out to Kazmi & Sakata Attorneys at Law by calling (858) 874-0711 and scheduling a free immigration consultation today.

April 2017
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