On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court in a historical case, found that that the Constitution requires a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex. In other words, same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry in every state in the U.S.! This has been a controversial issue for many years now, so it comes as good news to many. So, what does this mean in the context of immigration law?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has recognized same-sex marriages since 2013, allowing same-sex couples to petition for their partners. The only requirement was that the marriage be entered into in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages. With this new U.S. Supreme Court case, all states must recognize same-sex marriages, allowing more people to get married in their home states and in turn, have more opportunities to help their partners obtain lawful status in the U.S.
There are numerous ways that having a same-sex partner can help your immigration case. First, if your partner is a U.S. citizen (USC) or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), they can now file a petition for you to immigrate to the U.S. regardless of what state you marry. Further, a same-sex partner is considered a “qualifying relative” for numerous different purposes. For example, certain individuals may be considered inadmissible to the U.S. and need a waiver of inadmissibility. Waivers of inadmissibility require a showing of extreme hardship to a USC or LPR spouse or parent. A same-sex marriage partner is considered a qualifying relative for that waiver. Also, for those that are in removal proceedings, you may be eligible for applications such as cancellation of removal. This application requires, amongst other factors, a showing of exception and extreme hardship to a USC or LPR spouse, parent, or child. A same-sex marriage partner is also considered a qualifying relative for these purposes. For those that have previously been in removal proceedings, have been ordered removed, and are now married to a same-sex partner, may be eligible to reopen their proceedings to adjust their status!
The recent Supreme Court case allowing same-sex marriage was not only a moral victory for many individuals, but also a victory for those that are seeking lawful status in the U.S. Speak to a knowledgeable attorney to discuss any options available to yo