LGBT Immigrant Families Welcome Immigration Equality

Published: 01/10/2012

President Obama has recently clarified the situation of same sex partnerships in the case of USA partner migration by instigating new written guidance for the use of the Department of Homeland Security when making decisions on applications. The DHS had previously given reasonable leeway to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) families applying for immigration of a de facto partner or civil partner, but the written directive gives them much clearer guidelines and will hopefully do away with much of the corroborative paperwork which has been necessary thus far. “In an effort to make clear the definition of the phrase ‘family relationships,’ I have directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to disseminate written guidance to the field that the interpretation of the phrase ‘family relationships’ includes long-term, same-sex partners,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.
The written directive makes things much clearer from the standpoint of the families also. The executive director of Immigration Equality, Rachel B Tiven is very pleased with the move, saying, “This is a huge step forward. Until now, LGBT families and their lawyers had nothing to rely on but an oral promise that prosecutorial discretion would include all families. Today, DHS has responded to Congress and made that promise real. The Administration’s written guidance will help families facing separation and the field officers who are reviewing their cases. The new guidelines will put in writing a commitment the Administration has expressed over the past year. Now, the courts and Congress should act to make relief permanent, and provide access to green cards for all LGBT families.”
Although the wording of the paperwork will still include the phrase ‘family relationships’ as before, the written directive now makes it perfectly clear that same sex relationships are to be specifically included. Same sex partner visa applications in the USA had always been considered in a favourable light as low priority for removal while the application was being considered, but there was always the risk that it would be turned down as under Federal Law same sex couples are not eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or US “Green Card” to join their partner in the US. This is now not so likely to be the case but the onus will still be on the partners or their professional immigration service to prove that the relationship is a strong one and not just an excuse to get the non-resident partner into the US.
Same sex marriage is a political hot potato in the USA and with the up-coming Presidential elections, it is bound to be a matter for debate. California is one of seven States to have legalised it, but it now only recognizes same sex marriage on a conditional basis. Washington State and Maryland have passed laws allowing it in principle, but the referendum to either allow or not allow the bill is tabled as part of the presidential elections and may not go through in either state. If it does, it could complicate the situation regarding same sex partner migration into the USA as it will depend on which state the couple intend to reside. The written directive will smooth out the situation while the issue is in its current state of flux.

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