Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor in June 2013, in which the Court struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), same-sex married couples were not allowed to seek a green card on behalf of a spouse. But after the Court struck down DOMA, same-sex married couples are now allowed to file petitions for their spouses to receive green cards.
An integral part of the green card application process is an interview with a U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) official. The USCIS considers the interview to be an opportunity to confirm that the information provided in the application is correct and to assess whether the marriage is authentic. Marriage-based green card interviews can be conducted in a number of different ways. The USCIS official may talk to the couple individually or separately, and in some cases, the interview might be recorded or videotaped.
Although the DHS instructed the USCIS to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of legally married same-sex spouses in the same manner as those filed on behalf of opposite sex spouses, it can still take several months for a couple to get an interview with the immigration service after filing an application for a marriage-based green card or a change in status.
Moreover, the length of marriage still remains a factor in obtaining a green card with couples married less than two years are subject to more scrutiny – a factor that can work against same-sex couples since many states have only recently begun to allow same-sex marriage and because the couple may have been reluctant to openly publicize their relationship until recently.
Whether a newly-married couple, a same-sex couple, or a long-term married couple, petitioners for a marriage-based green card SHOULD:
- Submit timely petition documents with the necessary supporting information.
- Be prepared for your interview with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Dress professionally and review your green card application prior to the interview. Spend some time reviewing the facts and circumstances of your relationship with your spouse prior to the interview, including where and how you met, how the relationship developed, who proposed, and things that you like to do together.
- Be patient. The process of obtaining a green card can be a long one. In some cases, the USCIS officer will approve your application and stamp the passport of the immigration spouse at the interview and, within 30 days, the immigrant spouse will receive the official green card in the mail. In other cases, the USCIS will not have adequate time to perform all of the necessary security checks on an applicant so the case will be marked as “pending security checks,” with the applicant required to check back periodically regarding status. And in some cases, the USCIS will request additional documents or a subsequent interview.
- Consult with an immigration lawyer who understands the process of obtaining a marriage-based green card.
Contact a Green Card Lawyer
The process of obtaining a green card for a foreign-national spouse is not easy or automatic, regardless of whether the spouses are of the same sex or opposite sex. The green card lawyers at the Shapiro Law Group use their extensive knowledge of USCIS requirements and processes to help clients obtain green cards for their same-sex spouse and/or children. Whether your spouse is already in the U.S. and seeking a green card, or you are filing a new immigration application on their behalf, our immigration lawyers are here to guide you through the entire process.
If you are in a same-sex marriage with a foreign national, contact us at (847)564-0712 to speak with our Illinois green card attorney.