Birmingham Same-Sex Marriage Visa Lawyer
All spouses are entitled to immigrate together under U.S. immigration law. If one spouse gets an immigration visa, they can bring their spouse with them. If someone is already a citizen or Green Card holder, they may sponsor a spouse to join them in the U.S.
The rules are the same whether the spouses are opposite sex or same sex. However, the process could be more complicated if the foreign national is from a country that does not recognize the validity of same-sex marriage. A Birmingham same-sex marriage visa lawyer is familiar with the nuances and could help a couple navigate the issues that sometimes arise. A compassionate marriage visa lawyer could help answer questions and help an LGBTQ couple know what to expect from their immigration process.
What Marriages Qualify for a Visa?
An overwhelming number of countries in the world do not recognize same-sex marriage. Some of those countries recognize same-sex civil unions or domestic partnerships, but many do not. Unfortunately, this means that U.S. immigration law only recognizes marriages that are legal in the country where they took place.
However, a K-1 visa, often called a fiancé visa, could be a viable alternative for partners who cannot legally marry in the foreign national’s country of origin or residence. The sponsoring partner must be a U.S. citizen – Green Card holders cannot sponsor fiancés. A Birmingham immigration attorney could help a citizen compile the information they need to sponsor a partner under the K-1 visa program.
Additionally, there is no limit on the number of fiancé visas the U.S. issues annually, so the wait times often are shorter than for other visas. However, a K-1 visa is not an immigration visa. The partners must marry within 90 days of the fiancé’s entry into the country. After the marriage, the foreign spouse must apply for a Green Card, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will seek proof that the marriage is genuine.
How to Prove the Legitimacy of a Same-Sex Marriage
When someone sponsors their foreign spouse to enter the United States, USCIS requires proof that the marriage is a genuine intimate partnership. The spouses will need to provide documentation of their marriage and show proof that any previous marriages ended in death or divorce. The USCIS interviewer also will verify that the spouses have been living together as a married couple.
Establishing adequate proof could be problematic if one or both spouses come from a country that stigmatizes or criminalizes homosexuality. For instance, USCIS interviewers often ask questions about a couple’s home and family to establish that a marital relationship is legitimate. If the couple needed to hide their relationship from family, employers, or the government, providing satisfactory answers to the interviewer’s questions could be challenging.
A Birmingham attorney could help a couple prepare for the visa interviews and compile persuasive evidence of their relationship. Our legal professionals could be present at the interview to help explain how the cultural climate in the country of origin impacted the couple’s ability to have an open relationship.
Timeframes for Obtaining a Same-Sex Marriage Visa
Obtaining an immigration visa is a complicated process requiring both attention to detail and significant patience. In the best of circumstances, it could take months for USCIS to issue an immigration visa to a spouse. In some cases, it could take several years. An experienced lawyer in Birmingham could give a sponsor a more accurate idea of likely waiting times in a specific same-sex marriage visa case.
There is no limit to the number of visas that USCIS can issue to citizens’ spouses. Wait times are likely to be shorter if the sponsoring spouse is a citizen. However, Green Card holders are likely to have a longer wait because the law caps the number of people who can enter as the spouse of a Legal Permanent Resident.
Conditions in the foreign spouse’s country of origin and country of residence also impact wait times. The foreign spouse must have an interview at the Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence and produce substantial documentation proving who they are, that their marriage is valid, and that any prior marriages ended lawfully. If official documentation is difficult to obtain, the spouses might experience lengthy delays.
Call a Birmingham Same-Sex Marriage Visa Attorney about Your Options
The immigration law in this country favors reuniting spouses, and that applies to same-sex spouses. However, conditions in other countries could complicate the application process for some same-sex couples.
A Birmingham same-sex marriage visa lawyer could help an LGBTQ couple anticipate issues and respond to them before they cause significant delays. Contact an experienced local immigration attorney today.