Any marriage is under scrutiny when it comes to green card applications based on marriage. However, same-sex couples often face unique challenges simply because of the nature of their relationship.
Some of the most common “red flags” in these applications are set out below. Once you are aware of these potential issues, you can phrase or present the information in your form in a way that will hopefully side-step these common problems.
1. Documentation that shows a married relationship may be lacking.
Many documents that heterosexual couples have to “prove” their relationship may not be available to same-sex couples. For example, even though the couple may have been together for years, they may have been previously unable to file their taxes jointly. Some same-sex couples don’t commingle their finances, which means that they may not have joint bank accounts. Some couples also avoid putting more than one person’s name on their home or related mortgage for fear of discrimination.
As a same-sex couple, you simply may not have the type of information that an opposite-sex couple has. Nonetheless, you should gather and present everything you do have in support of your application.
2. Same-sex couples may not share their relationship with others.
Some married same-sex couples choose not to tell their families and friends about their relationship. They may do this out of fear, judgment, or lack of acceptance. As a result, LGBT couples may not be able to provide things like affidavits from friends and family that would often accompany a heterosexual couple application.
3. Some couples don’t know the other spouse’s family as well (or even at all).
In some cultures, same-sex relationships are so frowned upon that the couple cannot tell their family for fear of persecution, judgment, or even violence. In these situations, the couple may not know the other person’s family very well. This could be misperceived by some examiners that the relationship is not valid.
You should do your best to know about your spouse’s family, even if you have never met them for the purposes of your green card application. Talk to your spouse to get this need-to-know information.
4. Prior marriages can send the wrong signals.
Some same-sex couples have been in heterosexual marriages in the past. Unfortunately, that fact can cause the USCIS to suspect your current same-sex green card application. While more recent marriages are more likely to trigger additional investigations, you should be able to explain what happened and why—and that should be enough. Be truthful and straightforward. If the officer seems skeptical in your interview, you may need to call in a supervisor.
Although USCIS officers and supervisors receive sensitivity training regarding LGBT green card applications, there may still be some personal biases that come through. Having an experienced Florida LGBTQ immigration and family law attorney who knows the unique challenges that same-sex couples face can be an invaluable asset. Contact the Law Offices of Connie Kaplan to learn how our firm can help you!