22 Sep Same sex marriage and its immigration benefits
By Atty. Crispin Caday Lozano
Question: I am the beneficiary of a petition by my same sex partner in California which recognizes legality of same sex marriage. How many years do I have to wait to file for my naturalization?
Answer: Marriage to a U.S. citizen shouldn’t impact your ability to naturalize, and in some cases, it may allow you to acquire U.S. citizenship sooner than you would have otherwise been eligible. The general rule is that non-citizens can apply for naturalization after living in the U.S. for five years as a legal permanent resident. However, someone who is married to a U.S. citizen can apply for naturalization after three years, regardless of whether the non-citizen spouse obtained a green card through a marriage-based petition or through a different avenue. If a permanent resident marries their U.S. citizen partner, he or she should be eligible to apply for naturalization three years from the date of that marriage or five years from the date he or she became a permanent resident, whichever is sooner.
Question: I am a U.S. citizen and I wanted to petition my same sex partner in California. What is the procedure?
Answer: For families where both partners are in the United States, the U.S. citizen can submit a marriage based spousal petition and the foreign partner can apply for a green card through a procedure known as “adjustment of status.” So long as the foreign partner did not enter the U.S. without inspection (EWI) (i.e. crossing the border), this option should be available regardless of whether or not the foreign spouse is in lawful status or has fallen out of lawful status.
For families who are married and the foreign spouse is located outside the United States, the U.S. partner can submit a spousal petition and the foreign spouse can apply for an immigrant visa through the U.S. consulate, in a procedure known as “consular processing.” For families who are not already married, the U.S. partner can sponsor their spouse to come to the U.S. on a fiancé/e visa, which will allow the two to marry in the U.S. and subsequently file a marriage based application.
Consular processing is also the option that families have to pursue if the foreign spouse entered the U.S. without inspection. However, when the foreign national spouse leaves the U.S. to apply, they may be prohibited from returning because of the three-year/ten-year bar on returning to the U.S. following the accrual of unlawful presence here. As a result, some families may be need to file for a provisional waiver of this bar from within the U.S. and wait here for the waiver to be approved before the foreign partner leaves the U.S. to consular process.
Question: I am in removal proceedings and I was charged with misrepresentation of material fact. I do not have a parent or son or daughter who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Will I qualify for waiver if my same sex partner who is a U.S. citizen will marry me?
Answer: Yes. If your same sex partner will marry you, then you will be considered spouse of U. S. citizen. Whenever the immigration laws condition eligibility for a waiver on the existence of a “marriage” or status as a “spouse,” same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages.
Note: This is not a legal advice. You should consult with an immigration attorney about your specific situation.