TPS for Yemen Nationals

yemen-flagGood news for Yemen nationals in the United States who are concerned about returning home. Due to the ongoing conflict in Yemen, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has designated Yemen for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Certain Yemen nationals and those who last lived in Yemen but without any nationality, now in the U.S., may be eligible for authorized stay and employment authorization (work permits) if they meet the requirements for TPS. TPS may be granted for 18 months from September 3rd 2015 to March 3rd 2017 with the possibility of renewal but an individual must first apply and be granted TPS.

Applicants will need to show that they have been “continuously present and “continuously residing in the U.S. since September 3rd 2015. The application fee is $515 for TPS and employment authorization, $50 for those under 14 years of age and $135 for those who do not request employment authorization. Fee waivers for filing fees will be available.

The Law Office of Andre Olivie, is now accepting consultations with individuals Yemenis interested in applying for TPS. If you are interested in applying for TPS you may contact attorney, Andre Olivie at (206) 724-1940, by email at or by making an appointment on this website.

9 Steps for Bringing Your Same-sex Fiancé to the U.S.

Cute Gay CoupleDid you have a romantic rendezvous on your vacation abroad? Have you been chatting with a sexy man on the other side of the world? Long distance relationships can be difficult, even more so if they are international. If you really want to take your relationship to the next level you and your partner will probably need to live in the same country? Unfortunately, the U.S. does not hand out visitor visas to just anyone.   Many single men who come from non industrialized nations have difficulty obtaining visitors or student visas. They can not hop on a plane for a visit, and those that can visit easily, such as Europeans cannot also work here.

If your new beau is from a country such as the Philippines, or Thailand, China or Cameroon, they need to apply for visa to come to the U.S.  If you were part of a straight couple you could fly to their country get married and apply for a marriage visa based on the foreign marriage. Unfortunately, same-sex marriage is not legal in most countries so the next best option is to petition for a fiancée visa so your future spouse can come to the U.S. marry you and then adjust his status that of a lawful permanent resident i.e. get a green card.

The fiancé visa process, like most immigration processes, is not quick and can be complicated, an immigration attorney can help you through the process. I’ve outlined the general steps below.

airplaneStep 1: Meet your Fiancé in Person Some of you may have met your new boyfriend on a trip abroad, but these days many gay and lesbians start relationships online regardless of location. However, the U.S. government requires that you prove that you have met your fiancé in person AND within the last two years. The only exceptions are for religious reasons or exceptional circumstances such as a serious medical condition that prevents you from traveling outside of the country. It’s probably better for the relationship anyway that you’ve met your fiancé in person before you spend all the time, money, and emotional energy required for this process.

EnvelopesStep 2: Gather evidence of your relationship and other required documents. It is not enough to put your fiancé’s name on a petition, you will need to convince the U.S. government that your relationship is genuine and that you’ve met within the last two years. This can be done by gathering photos of the two of you together, plane tickets or itineraries, passport stamps showing your recent visit. Screenshots of text messages, Facebook chats, emails, actual letters or postcards, hotel receipts, love letters, declarations from friends or family who know about your relationship or any other document you think shows that your more than acquaintances. In addition to the relationship evidence you will also need to prove you are a U.S. Citizen. This can be done with a copy of your U.S. Birth Certificate, U.S. Passport I.D. Page , Naturalization Certificate of Certificate of Citizenship.

I-129F PetitionStep 3: File a Fiancé Petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services . To begin the process, you, the U.S. Citizen must file form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé with USCIS, Form G-325A Biographic Information sheet for you and your fiancé and include the evidence mentioned above, a passport photo of you and your fiancé and a check or money order made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for $340.00. It is not required to have an attorney when filing immigration petitions, but it is recommended for those who do not have a thorough understanding U.S. immigration laws and the complicated process.

ClockStep 4: Be Prepared for a long wait. The current processing time for fiancée petitioners are about five months and this is only for the petition part of the process. The National Visa Center and Embassy part may take several more months. In some cases the fiancé visa process alone may take over a year.

NVC LogoStep 5: Begin processing at the National Visa Center.  After your petition is approved by the USCIS, your case will be transferred to the National Visa Center. They will work with the US. Consulate in your fiancé’s country to coordinate the rest of the process. Each U.S. Consulate has their own way of doing things but generally require the same steps. The first step is to complete a visa application online. It is called the DS160 and asks general questions about personal, work, U.S. immigration and criminal history.

BankStep 6: Pay Visa Fees at Local Bank Your fiancé will then be directed to pay fees at a local bank which has a contract with the U.S. Consulate to accept visa fees. Currently $385.00

DoctorStep 7: Obtain a Police Certificate, Medical Exam and Proof of USC Fiancé’s Income. Your fiancé will need to request a police certificate that explains that he has no criminal record or if he does, then he will need to get certified records for any arrests or convictions. Please note they may affect his ability to obtain a visa. He will also need a medical exam done by an Embassy approved doctor. HIV is no longer an inadmissibility factor. Information on how to obtain these documents is provided on the U.S. Consulate websites. You will also need to send your fiancé a form I-134 Affidavit of Support along with your recent tax return and W2s to show that you have the income to sponsor him. In general you should make at least 125% of the poverty guidelines for your house hold size. If you are single with no children that should be about $20k/ year or more.

Interview Day Circled on Calendar - Meet New EmployerStep 8: Your fiancé will attend an Interview at the U.S. Consulate. Eventually your fiancé will need to attend an interview at the U.S. Consulate where the consular officer will ask about your relationship. If your fiancé is closeted and shy about discussing his same-sex relationship, he may need some practice before hand. This is not the time to be discreet. General questions are about how the two of you met, how long you’ve been dating, when you plan to marry and what kind of evidence have you brought to support your case.

Same-Sex Marriage Step 9: If the fiancé visa is approved your fiancé can enter the U.S., get married within 90 days and file for adjustment of status. Arriving in the U.S. is not the end of the process. You must marry your fiancé in a state that allows for same-sex marriage, which hopefully will be all of America by the time your fiancé arrives. Once you marry he must start the adjustment of status process so that they can receive lawful permanent residence (green card). This is a whole other process requiring at least $1070 in government fees, dozens of pages of forms and another approximately 6 months before your marriage interview!

U.S. Supreme Court Considers Right to Gay Marriage

Supreme Court Considers Gay MarriageThe U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on April 28th regarding the rights of same-sex couples to marry. The momentum on this issue is with the LGBT community as ruling after ruling from the lower courts has found many state bans on gay marriage to be unconstitutional. There is of course a chance that this wave of progress will come to a halt given the conservative leaning of the high court.

The previous U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor extended to married same-sex couples many federal protections and benefits that married straight couples have long enjoyed. This included the ability of U.S. citizens to sponsor their foreign spouses in applications for marriage visas and green cards. The ruling did not, however, resolve the issue of whether or not all same-sex couples have a right to marry.

As of the start of these arguments, gays and lesbians can get married in 36 states plus Washington DC. The court’s decision here could either bring marriage equality to the whole nation, or create a major hurdle for the cause moving forward.

What’s at Stake?

There are two issues being considered. The primary one concerns the ability of states to define what marriages it will license; can it be limited to straight couples or must they allow for same-sex marriages as well? The smaller issue asks if gay marriages legally performed in states that allow for them must be recognized by the other states.

If the Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples do indeed have a right to marry, the remaining anti-gay marriage laws in the nation would be invalidated. Essentially, gay and lesbian couples could choose to reside in any state and get married there .

A less favorable ruling would deny same-sex marriage as a right, but see to it that existing marriages will be recognized by all 50 states. Those in states that do not license same-sex couples could get married in a state that does and upon returning home, they would enjoy full recognition of their union, including eligability of the foreign spouse for a marriage-based green card.

The other option has some potential to throw the situation into chaos. This would be a decision that states neither have to license same-sex couples for marriage, but they don’t even have to recognize their unions performed in states that do. This may open the door for some states where gay marriage bans were struck down for reconsideration of prohibitions.


This last option would be somewhat unexpected. Afterall, the rejection of appeals by the Supreme Court to several states seeking to maintain their bans on same-sex marriage is essentially what allowed the number of states with marriage equality to double in a short amount of time.

What’s Inside Obama’s New Immigration Law?

FamilyYesterday, President Barack Obama introduced a new immigration policy through executive action. Today, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has provided us with some more detail about who might be eligible for deferred action and work permits. (The new policy does not grant permanent residence, green cards, or U.S. Citizenship).

***As of 11/21 /14 You can not yet apply for any of the new benefits under Obama’s New Immigration Policy. You may need to wait 90 or 180 days.***

There are two main aspects to the new policy. The first is an expansion of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ) Program.  This program has been in place for over two years already and has allowed hundreds of thousands of undocumented students who entered the country as children to register and obtain work permits. Unfortunately, the original policy only applied to people who were under the age of 30. That requirement will be removed!! Which means that no matter how old you are, if you entered the U.S. before you were age 16 and were continuously present in the U.S.  from January 2010 until now you might be eligible for a work permit! USCIS says they are likely to begin accepting requests for this expanded DACA program in about three months so stay tuned to the website or speak with an immigration attorney or a trusted non-profit organization such as the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project,

From USCIS Webpage on 11/21/2014

  • Current DACA recipients seeking renewal and new applicants, including individuals born prior to June 15, 1981, who meet all other DACA guidelines.
  • Allows individuals born prior to June 15, 1981, to apply for DACA (removing the upper age restriction) provided they meet all other guidelines.
  • Requires continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010, rather than the prior requirement of June 15, 2007.
  • Extends the deferred action period and employment authorization to three years from the current two years.
  • Approximately 90 days following the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement.


The second and largest aspect of the new policy will be the granting of deferred action to undocumented parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents who have been in the country for 5 years or more.  There is a potential for this to affect millions of individuals. Please note that not everyone will be eligible, but millions will. USCIS estimates that it will be another six months before anyone can start applying for this deferred action but if you think you might be eligible start gathering proof of your physical presence in the U.S. and get your U.S. taxes back filed if necessary. Speak with an immigration attorney or trusted non-profit organization to see if you might be eligible.


From USCIS Website on 11/21/2014

  • An undocumented individual living in the United States who, on the date of the announcement, is the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and who meets the guidelines listed below.
  • Allows parents to request deferred action and employment authorization if they:
  • Have continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010;
  • Are the parents of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident born on or before November 20, 2014; and
  • Are not an enforcement priority for removal from the United States, pursuant to the November 20, 2014, Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants Memorandum.

Notes: USCIS will consider each request for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) on a case-by-case basis. Enforcement priorities include (but are not limited to) national security and public safety threats.

  • Approximately 180 days following the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement.

There will also be an expansion of our skilled worker immigration policies and naturalization promotion. For more information check out the USCIS website at

Andre Olivie is a Seattle-based immigration attorney helping families and individuals apply for asylum, marriage visas, green cards and U.S. citizenship.

Obama’s New Immigration Law

obamaOn November 20th 2014, President Obama spoke to the nation and introduced a new policy which will be enacted through executive order to provide temporary permission to stay for millions of undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least 5 years, have U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident children, paid taxes and have no criminal background. This is a HUGE change in immigration policy. This new policy will help millions of undocumented individuals the opportunity to live without fear outside of the shadows and work lawfully.

The policy was just announced this evening and it is not clear what the exact details will be. There is currently no process for registering but stay tuned! Speak with an immigration attorney or respected non-profit organization in the next few weeks about how to sign up for the program and to learn the potential risks. There is potential that the program could be reversed if a new president comes into power, but we are hopeful that, like the recent deferred action granted to young children, that this will program will continue in the near future and eventually lead to something more permanent.

“If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes – you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.”

“Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law? Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?” – President Barack Obama  – November 20th, 2014.


A Dozen States Making Marriage Equality Progress

Dozen States for Same-sex Marriage

2014 has seen great progress for the LGBT  community, positive news for bi-national couples.

Those interested in sponsoring their same-sex partners for green cards might soon have more places to marry. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will recognize marriages as long as they are legal where they take place (including in foreign nations such as Canada and Spain).

Guest Post by Daniel Bean, Paralegal.


The good news about the state of marriage equality here is that last month, the U.S. court of Appeals for the 10th circuit announced their in favor; the bad news is that that ruling is on hold and will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Then they will decide whether or not to take up the case. But there is a silver lining: a Boulder County Judge ruled today that marriage licenses will continue to be granted despite the hold on the ruling. Go Utah!


Indiana will be joining Utah in its appeal to the highest court after last month a federal judge there ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. What’s more, yesterday a memo the governor’s office sent a memo to Indiana’s executive branch affirming that the state refuses to recognize same-sex marriage and that the ban would be in “full force and effect.” A reason was not made clear for that decision.


Colorado also took a leap toward equality yesterday when a federal judge ruled its own ban of same-sex marriage “bears no rational relationship to any conceivable government.” The same judge has placed an immediate hold on the decision pending an anticipating an appeal to the Supreme Court.


On May 9, 2014, Judge Chris Piazza decreed: “Let them eat wedding cake!” and we would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for that meddling Attorney General—who won’t be named here. It’s interesting that the number of marriage licenses reportedly given was around 400: they must have acted fast because just 6 days later all same-sex marriages were put on hold.


In May, a county circuit ruled Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Just days later, the Supreme Court did put a sort of hold on issuing marriage licenses to happy couples, citing that the ruling didn’t have implications for that process, but not before over 450 licenses were issued. There is currently a hold on the ruling.


Texas’ state ban on same-sex marriage was tossed out by a federal judge in late February, and that same judge stayed his own decision in anticipation of an appeal by opponents of dignity and equality for same-sex couples.


Saw slightly fewer days of equality when a judge there said “potato, potatto” and decided that same-sex couples deserved the right to get married same as their heterosexual counterparts on May 13th; not before a hold was put on the ruling on May 16th.


A judge in Michigan had some powerful words when he struck down their state ban. He had this to say: “”Today’s decision… affirms the enduring principle that regardless of whoever finds favor in the eyes of the most recent majority, the guarantee of equal protection must prevail.” As you can guess, there is currently a hold on this ruling pending an anticipated appeal.” But in good news, in response to the hold, US Attorney General put out the word that “these families will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages.”


It looks like Judge Terrence C. Kern had the good sense to recognize that Oklahoma’s state ban on marriage was “an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit;” however, as you may have guessed by now, that decision is on hold, pending an appeal.


Virginians almost celebrated a Happy Valentine’s Day when their ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional on February 13th, but that decision was placed on hold, in anticipation of an appeal. Here’s hoping that any couples who decided to get married on a day we celebrate love had a happy holiday with their special someones anyhow; and to those still looking for “the one,” keep your hopes up, because LGBT rights seem to have picked up steam in spite of the temporary stays on these decisions.


June 6, 2014 was Wisconsin’s day to ring in marriage equality, and it looks like over 400 shiny new marriage licenses were granted to happy couples. This time it took 7 days before an official hold was placed on the ruling—which, after reading about the other cases, seems like a long time.


The sun shone bright on the Sunshine State on July 17th, 2014 in light of the news that a judge had ruled a ban on same-sex marriage unconscionable. An immediate stay was placed on the ruling. I guess our day in the sun will come sooner or later, but that’s okay, Florida, you’re still beautiful.

Information in this post is not guaranteed and may be subject to change. Speak with an attorney for specific immigration advice. As immigration laws can be complicated its best to speak with an immigration attorney even before you marry. Immigration Lawyer, Andre Olivie, helps gay couples throughout the country apply for green cards, marriage and fiancée visas.

Six Countries Leading Gays to Seek Asylum in the U.S.

Gay AsylumWhile gays in the U.S. celebrate the fall of DODT, DOMA and the expansion of marriage equality, much of the global LGBT population continue to suffer under foreign governments that persecute, condemn, criminalize, torture and oppress those who dare to love members of the same sex. Recent news from Russia and Uganda has brought these practices into the limelight and many Americans are asking what the U.S. government can do to help gays and lesbians from these nations.

For those foreign gays who are currently in the U.S. or those who can find their way to the U.S. on non-immigrant visas, asylum might be an option. The U.S. government will grant asylum to gays and lesbians who have suffered persecution, or who have a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of their sexual orientation.  The following are 6 countries, whose treatment of gays, as reported by our own Department of State, would likely support an asylum claim in the U.S.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signs an anti-homosexual bill into law at the state house in EntebbeUganda

On February 24th, 2014, President Museveni signed into a law an anti-gay bill which toughened penalties for gays and could lead to life in prison for homosexual acts which had already been criminalized. According to the U.S. State Department, “LGBT persons faced discrimination and legal restrictions…LGBT persons were subject to societal harassment, discrimination, intimidation, and threats to their well-being, and were denied access to health services. Discriminatory practices also prevented local LBGT NGOs from registering with the NGO Board and obtaining official status.”

Russian Gay RightsRussia

The Sochi Olympics and the actions of punk protest band, Pussy Riot gave recently helped expose the mistreatment of Russian Gays. The Russian parliament recently passed a law banning gay propaganda and Moscow has refused to allow Gay Pride parades. The U.S. State Department reports that openly gay men have been attacked by neo-Nazis with police failing to respond. Gay men and women hide their orientation due to fear of losing their jobs or their homes as well as the threat of violence and medical practitioners reportedly continued to limit or deny LGBT persons health services due to intolerance and prejudice.

Gambian PresidentGambia

Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh has called homosexuality a threat to human existence and “more deadly than all natural disasters put together.” Male homosexual acts are illegal and punishable with five to 14 years in prison. According to the U.S. State Department, “There was strong societal discrimination against LGBT individuals, further enhanced by statements by President Jammeh and the enforcement of a law, nicknamed Operation Bulldozer, designed to enforce harsh penalties for criminals but also directed at gay men. There were no LGBT organizations in the country.”

Ukraine Gay RIghts


This week, President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine stepped down following massive protests. However, it is yet unclear whether any new government would be any kinder to Ukraine’s LGBT population who has suffered under persecution both by the government and the society. The LGBT population has experienced discrimination in education, the workplace and access to medical treatment. Like Russia, Ukraine’s parliament has sought to pass a law against “homosexual propaganda.” Rights organizations have found that LGBT individuals faced “physical violence, abuse, threats, property damage, theft, extortion, bullying, workplace discrimination, discrimination in educational settings, and divulging of personal information.”

Seeking Gay Rights in JamaicaJamaica

In 2006, an article in TIME magazine called Jamaica “The most homophobic place on earth.” Today, Jamaican gays continue to suffer persecution on account of their sexual orientation. Though the government has recently stated that they will be reviewing the law, homosexual acts continue to be illegal in Jamaica punishable by up to 10 years in prison.  A culture of homophobia is perpetuated by popular music and religion and physical violence against gays is widespread. “The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG) reported serious human rights abuses, including assault with deadly weapons, “corrective rape” of women accused of being lesbians, arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of gay and lesbian patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of such persons. Police often did not investigate such incidents.”

kyrgyz_republicKyrgyz Republic

The Central Asian nation was formerly under the U.S.S.R. and like other countries in the region remains a bastion for gay persecution. Despite decriminalizing homosexual relations in 1998, human rights organizations have found that police officers continue to arrest individuals for homosexuality.  LGBT persons face physical and verbal abuse, possible loss of work, and unwanted attention from police and authorities. Human Rights Watch recently published a 65 page report highlighting the abuse of gay men in Kyrgyz Republic who suffered severe physical violence including punching, kicking, and beating with gun butts, batons, empty beer bottles, or other objects.

The latest State Department Human Rights Reports are available here:

Further research can be found at the following organization websites: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.




6 Ways To Help Gay Russians Seek Asylum in the U.S.

LGBT Asylum for RussiansIf you’ve been following the news in the last few years you’ve likely heard that the situation for gays and lesbians in Russia has deteriorated significantly. Gay and Lesbian Russians need your help. Anti-gay laws, homophobic protests and anti-gay attacks have increased. For many, it is no longer safe to be gay man or woman in Russia. Fortunately, the United States government may be willing to help gay Russians currently in the U.S. on visitor, student or work visas, including those who have overstayed their visas.  The U.S. may grant asylum to those individuals who have either been persecuted in their home country by their government, people the government is unable or unwilling to control on account of their sexual orientation.

The following are 6 ways that you can help your Russian LGBT friends obtain asylum in the U.S.


If you meet a gay or lesbian individual from Russia or any other country for that matter, show them some U.S. hospitality. It can be difficult being in a new country with a completely different language and culture. Befriend a Russian. Learn about their culture and share your own. Find out what you have in common. If you’ve met at a gay bar or through an LGBT organization, you already have a starting point!


Your friend may not be willing to provide you with all the details of their lives, and unless you’re great friends or in a relationship, it’s probably none of your business. However, individuals who have suffered persecution in Russia or have a fear of returning because they may be persecuted  might not be comfortable discussing it as it may be to personal or traumatic.  In some cases, they may only have straight Russian friends in the U.S. and prefer to keep their sexuality hidden. When you have a good relationship with your friend, ask questions but don’t interrogate. Talk about what you’ve heard in the news and let them tell you if they are having problems at home or are afraid to return because of their sexual-orientation. Your Russian friend may already be a U.S. Citizen or have a green card but those on temporary visas may need asylum if they fear returning when their stay ends.


Many foreigners and U.S. Citizens alike are unaware about LGBT asylum. Your friend may not know that the U.S. will allow gay and lesbians to seek asylum in the U.S.  Let your friends know that there is a possibility for those who fear persecution because of their sexuality to remain permanently in the U.S.  Being informed about the asylum option is particularly important as, generally, asylum must be applied for within one year of entry into the U.S.


Asylum law is complicated and each case is unique. It is generally not a good idea to attempt to apply for asylum without first speaking with an immigration attorney. An immigration attorney can help your friend decide whether or not they want to apply for asylum and also whether or not they are eligible for LGBT asylum. They will prepare a strong application packet which may need to be hundreds of pages. They will also prepare for and attend an asylum interview with the client or represent them at an asylum trial if the friend is in deportation proceedings. The not for profit organization Immigration Equality helps connect asylum seekers with pro-bono and private immigration attorneys with experience in LGBT asylum law.


If your friend is applying for asylum, they will need to prove to the U.S. government that they have suffered persecution or have a reasonable fear of future persecution on account of their sexual orientation. Written statements from friends who can attest that the individual is actually gay will be helpful to their case. An immigration attorney will likely ask their clients’ friends to provide affidavits and guide them as to what is necessary. If your friend is seeking asylum in court, it may be necessary for a friend to testify in person.


The asylum process can be long, sometimes more than one year. After an asylum application has been pending for 5 months, the asylum seeker may be eligible to apply for a work permit, however before this time, unless they have a work visa, asylum seekers are not permitted to work. They might need help with basic needs in the U.S including help with food and shelter. Emotional support can be just as helpful.

If your friend is fortunate to receive asylum, they will be allowed to remain live and work in the U.S. After one year, they will be eligible to apply for a green card (lawful permanent residence). After four more years they may be eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship.


Same-sex Greencards are Here!

Gay Couple

Guest Post by Daniel Z. Bean, Paralegal

Are We Eligible?

We’re overcome with gratitude to those who’ve fought for marriage equality and we’re positively beaming that LGBT bi-national couples are now planning to live their lives together. Couples once separated by restrictions on immigration policy are seeing the green light as foreign partners are approved for residency and visas. Couples who lived in fear of being separated can now breathe a sigh of relief, too. The U.S.C.I.S. and Department of State have fully embraced the defeat of DOMA Section 3 as promised.

There are still a few things to keep in mind for same-sex couples as they apply for immigration benefits:

  • The validity of the marriage still depends on the laws where the marriage took place: whether the country or U.S. state recognizes same-sex marriage is important. If a couple marries in a state or country were same-sex marriage is legal, they are eligible for immigration benefits—even if they no longer live in a state with same-sex marriage laws.
  • For example, a couple married in New York that later moved to Michigan would still be recognized by the U.S.C.I.S. or U.S. Dept. of State.
  • Subsequently, couples living in domestic partnerships or civil unions will need to get married before they can be eligible for these benefits.
  • Derivative benefits will also be extended to spouses and children of same-sex spouses where eligible.

Please be aware that there are many variables to consider before petitioning for loved ones. As always, please consult with an immigration attorney to discuss what options are available.



US Dept of State.

Hope for Immigration Reform in 2013

Immigration Reform

Guest Blog by Daniel Z. Bean

Supporters of immigration reform were thrilled when the US Senate passed a bipartisan bill this summer, but House republicans have balked at the idea that they’ll be voting on the Senate bill, insisting that a path to citizenship is out of the question. And now with two time-sensitive political issues topping the agenda—diplomacy regarding Syria and a deadline to approve a new federal budget—it seems that they won’t be introducing legislation any time soon.

However, hope for a vote this fall has not yet faded away. Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, addressed the prospect with his own vow to push forward. He told the New York Times last week, “We’re gearing up for late October — we’re going to push really hard for votes this fall.” Additionally, this week women’s groups staged protest in Washington D.C., which drew national attention and led to more than a hundred arrests.

House republicans have good reason to pass a comprehensive answer to the Senate bill sooner rather than later. Support for legislation which includes a path to citizenship is at an all-time high: according to a July 2013 Gallup Poll, almost 90% of Americans are in favor of providing one. Americans also support increases in border security and the creation of more work-related visas for immigrants. It’s in our best interest to push for action before next year’s election, when some House representatives may begin courting their conservative base with bleaker options for reform.

The Senate has done its part, now it’s up to the House of Representatives and President Obama to serve Americans faithfully and give us the immigration reform we are asking for.


Preston, J. and Shear, M. “Immigration Reform Falls to the Back of the Line.” NY Times.

Immigration. Gallup.