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Concerns When Applying for a Green Card as a Same-Sex Couple 

Savage law April 14, 2023

Women holding hands with rainbow ribbon symbolBefore the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges, if you were in a same-sex relationship with an undocumented immigrant, hoping to achieve lawful permanent resident (LPD), or green card, status, it simply wouldn’t have been possible.  

Windsor, however, struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which recognized only heterosexual unions as legal in the U.S., and Obergefell made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. 

Thus, it is now perfectly possible if you’re a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to sponsor your same-sex spouse for a green card following the same procedures as heterosexual couples. If your spouse lives overseas in a country that recognizes same-sex marriage, you can also sponsor that person to come to the U.S. and get a green card. 

If you’re in a same-sex marriage in or around Providence, Rhode Island, or anywhere in the state, and you wish to sponsor your spouse for a green card, contact the Savage law. As an experienced immigration attorney, Layne Savage has been helping immigrants and their loved ones navigate the immigration system for more than 10 years, and she will treat your situation with compassion and understanding as she fights for your rights. Her office also serves clients in the Boston, Massachusetts area. 

Pursuing a Green Card for Your Loved One

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires two forms to obtain a green card for your spouse. One is Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and the other is the green card application itself, Form I-485. 

If your spouse is with you in the United States, then the process for the I-130 will take place mostly by mail until the final interview, but if your spouse is overseas, then they will have to go through what is called consular processing. The spouse will need to go to the nearest U.S. Consul or Embassy and undergo an interview.  

Another benefit when both spouses are residing in the U.S. is that both forms can be submitted at the same time. If the process begins abroad, then the I-485 submission will have to wait until consular processing is concluded. 

Getting a Green Card for a Fiancé(e)

If your intended spouse lives abroad, then the process must begin with obtaining a K-1 fiancé(e) visa. This is only possible, however, if you are a U.S. citizen. If you are, you can file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). You must then get married within 90 days of the arrival of your intended spouse. Generally, you must also show that the two of you met at least once in the two years prior to the nonimmigrant visa application. 

Common Concerns and Challenges

Assuming you have been married legally as a same-sex couple either here or in a foreign country (29 countries including the U.S. recognize same-sex unions), the process for your undocumented spouse to obtain a green card is the same as that for a heterosexual couple. This means that you must show that you have a bona fide relationship and that your marriage is legally valid. 

The USCIS is always on the lookout for marriage fraud. Perhaps the undocumented spouse is paying the other spouse to sponsor them for citizenship while concocting a sham marriage. Proving a bona fide relationship thus requires showing documents that you two live together, such as through a lease agreement, joint bank account, joint health insurance account, and so on.  

USCIS officials may also question the undocumented spouse about details of the couple’s family life, including information about their spouse’s parents. The latter can prove difficult if the U.S. citizen or LPR (Lawful Permanent Residence) spouse doesn’t want their parents to know about the same-sex relationship. 

You will also have to show a legally valid marriage certificate from a government agency. A church-based or other type of marriage certificate will generally not be acceptable.  

How an Attorney Can Help

For the process of getting your undocumented spouse a green card, you will need to assemble many documents as evidence and no doubt have to answer inquiries from the USCIS. The process can take many months and may cause anxiety among same-sex spouses. An attorney can not only help you gather the supporting evidence and answer questions from USCIS officials but can also reassure you that the process is proceeding normally and that everything should eventually be fine. 

Get the Answers You Need

In the Providence, Rhode Island area, and throughout the state—and even in the Boston, Massachusetts greater community—rely on the Savage law to answer all your immigration and citizenship questions, including the process of obtaining a green card for your spouse.  

Whatever your concern or goal, reach out immediately Attorney Layne Savage will help you navigate the system and strive for the result you’re seeking.