Andre Olivie is a member of the Washington State LGBT Lawyers Association known as Q-Law and was the former Vice-President of the Seattle University School of Law LGBT Student Organization known as OUTLAWS. He is pleased to work with the LGBT community in their immigration needs and has provided information below on LGBT immigration issues and news.
Same-Sex Couples and Immigration -
On June 26, 2013, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. DOMA had been cited as the main reason that USCIS previously denied green cards and other immigration benefits to legally married same-sex couples. USCIS has begun to give green cards to spouses of same-sex couples including some of my clients. So far there have been no major issues with this change in policy.
Gay Asylum and Witholding of Removal
Immigration Attorney, Andre Olivie, helps gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals who have been harmed or have a well-founded fear that they will be harmed or killed in their home countries because of their sexual-orientation or gender identity. In order to obtain LGBT asylum in the U.S. and individual must apply within one year of entry or show that changed conditions (such as coming out within the last year or new anti-gay laws in the home country within the last year). They must prove to the U.S. government that they have been harmed OR will be harmed or killed by their government OR people the government was unwilling OR unable to control because they are gay, lesbian or transgendered. Asylum can be applied for at any time. A grant of asylum allows the person to apply for a Greencard (Lawful Permanent Residence) after one year and thus a pathway to U.S. Citizenship.
For those gay asylum seekers who do not meet the one year bar because they have been in the U.S. for over a year and there are no changes in the country conditions, they may still be eligible for Withholding of Removal. Withholding of Removal can only be applied for if the individual is already in removal (deportation) proceedings and essentially, stops the person from being removed and allows them to live in the U.S. and provides them with a work permit. Unfortunately it is sometimes a bittersweet relief as there is no pathway to a greencard or U.S. Citizenship and the individual will not be allowed to return if they exit the U.S.
Attorney, Andre Olivie, has successful experience working with LGBT clients. Contact Andre to schedule a consultation by email or phone. Information about your sexual orientation will be kept confidential.