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IS SAME SEX MARRIAGE GREEN CARD INTERVIEW DIFFERENT?

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After DOMA was struck down, I am often asked whether Immigration Officers in the USA conduct the marriage green card interviews differently for same sex married couples, especially those where their partner entered on a B2 visa.  The answer is no, but there are different aspects of “proof of marriage” evidence provided during adjustment of status that may make proving that a same sex couple lives together a bit more difficult in some gay marriage cases.

Proving Gay Couple has History of Joint Financial Assets & Joint Monthly Bills 

green card same sex marriageWhen it comes to granting marriage green cards to binational couples, same sex couples are held to the same legal standard as different sex couples. To be granted adjustment of status, the gay married couple must prove (a) one of them is a U.S. Citizen, (b) that they are legally married, and (c) that they live together in a marital relationship.

Proving the first two requirements is generally straight forward. Proving the third, that a gay married couple lives together in a marital relationship, can be a bit complicated.  In general, the idea is to submit as many joint account statements as possible that list both names and the same address on them. The more accounts held jointly in both names the better, no matter how high the account balance.

One obstacle to adding a foreign national spouse’s name to a financial account is their lack of a social security number or ITIN.  Foreign nationals who entered the USA on a B1/B2 visa and applied for adjustment of status are not immediately given a social security number of an ITIN number.

green card same sex marriageImmigration Officers are familiar with this dilemma but still expect gay married couples to provide them with proof of at least some joint accounts.  Evidence of a joint rental agreement, joint zoo membership or Netflix account or magazine subscription in both names could be obtained, all of which to may not require a social security number or ITIN.

Some gay married couples have proudly added both of their names to everything, but others (often for very good reasons) have kept their accounts completely separate.  Unfortunately, if a same sex couple applies for a gay marriage based  marriage green card, they will be expected to present the same amount of proof of living together at the marriage green card interview that a different sex couple is required to submit.  If they can’t, they should be able to provide good reasons (in writing) for not doing so, such as a signed written statement, police reports, etc.

Proving Family Was Involved With Gay Married Couple During Adjustment of Status Process

green card same sex marriageAnother requirement everyone is expected to meet to get the . . . marriage green card is that the same sex couple had interaction with each others’ family.  This is proven through the submission of photographs taken at the wedding, holidays and special events.

There are many reasons why a same sex couple might not have spent time with each others’ family and/or certain friends.  The same sex couple should gather as many photos taken of both of them, as well as photos taken with each other’s family, and put them (2 on a page) on 8 1/2 x 11” paper in chronological order.

Does it seem like there are no family or family alternatives in the photos?  If you are missing photos of significant moments with significant family, it may be a sign to the Immigration Officer that you are not living together in a marital relationship.

You may have a situation where it is just impossible to include key family member in your photos.  Either they are deceased, live abroad, or are not supportive of your marriage.  In that case be ready to provide an short concise explanation of why your family was not at the wedding and why they are not in the photos.

Immigration Officers Look at Whole Picture

I have found that the interviewing Immigration Officers have an understanding of what it is like for a same sex married couple to deal with discrimination based on sexual preference and disapproval by family members.  However, just because family members are not in the photos,  it does not excuse the same sex couple from finding other ways to prove that they live together in a “bona fide” marriage.

WEBSITE.BBB.RATINGFor example, if a same sex couple is missing photos with family members in them, they should try to present more joint financial documents (such as a life insurance policy, joint medical insurance, joint tax return, and/or joint car insurance) at the marriage green card interview to make up for it.

On the other hand, if a same sex couple is missing joint financial documents, they should present more photos, affidavits from friends/relatives, joint accounts that do not cost money (joint email address, joint twitter account, etc.) at the marriage green card interview to make up for it.

attorney for green card same sex marriage

Immigration Attorney Danielle Nelisse

The interviewing Immigration Officers have had years of experience encountering different sex  couples with 25+ years  age differences and differing cultures and/or religions.

The Immigration Officers are trained to take into consideration all of the circumstances when faced with evaluating the “bona fides” of a marriage, whether it is a bi-national, bi-cultural, split age, or same sex marriage.

Call Danielle Nelisse at (619) 235-8811 at no charge at her office in  San Diego,  California if you want to discuss legal representation for your same sex  marriage green card case – there is no charge for a brief consultation.  

The immigration rules are the same all over the USA, and she represents clients no matter where they reside (including abroad).

Or you may email Attorney Nelisse at danielle@immigrationworkvisa.com and ask her about your case, also at no charge.

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Other Immigration Questions Concerning Same Sex Married Couples?

What are the issues if my gay spouse entered the USA as a B-2 Tourist ?

Exactly what happens at a marriage green card interview?

What are the “same sex marriage states” where gay marriages are legal?

How does a person get married in the USA?

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2 comments on “IS SAME SEX MARRIAGE GREEN CARD INTERVIEW DIFFERENT?

  1. Hazel Zoleta
    July 12, 2013

    Hi what if we are not married but have been in a committed relationship for 3 years. I live in the US my fiance’ is in the Philippines. I am from the Philippines but I am an American citizen meaning to say my family is all from there but I’m American. I met my fiance’ 3 years ago before DOMA. We cannot get married in the Philippines because they do not recognize same sex marriage and I cannot get her into the US because they are so strict with VISTOR’s VISA’s. BUT I am certain she’s who I want to marry I have travelled back and forth to keep our relationship going. I would have moved by now if not for my financial obligations I need to finish here in the US but now DOMA has been struck down and the US recognizes same sex couples I still do not know how to help achieve getting my fiance’ here so I can finally MARRY HER.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      July 13, 2013

      Dear Hazel,

      You should be able to file the paperwork for a K-1 fiance visa for her. Unfortunately, it may take up to a year to get her inside the USA, and then you would have 90 days to marry in an American state where it is allowed. After that you would file the marriage green card application for her.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

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