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[Jeannie Joung, Immigration Lawyer, 엘에이 이민법 변호사] Same Sex Marriage and Green Card

Tom and Kevin came in for a consultation for same sex marriage based immigration case. They were a typical marriage case where Tom, a U.S. citizen, and Kevin, a foreign student, had fallen in love and gotten married. They hadn’t moved in together yet because they both had obligations on the existing leases. They hadn’t filed joint taxes yet because they had just gotten married and time hasn’t come for them to file taxes. They opened a joint bank account but that was about all the evidence they had to prove their bona fide marriage. Not a problem. I could still help them file their case and they had a few months to gather more evidence. Tom and Kevin’s case was now possible since the repeal of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013.

DOMA was a federal law enacted in 1996 that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Under DOMA, same sex marriages were not recognized as a marriage union and therefore, barred any federal benefits to same sex couples. The non-recognition of same sex marriages prevented gay couples from receiving certain federal benefits such as filing of joint tax returns, surviving spouse’s right to social security, immigration, bankruptcy, etc. Specifically for immigration, DOMA prevented the U.S. citizen spouse from petitioning for his/her same sex spouse for a green card. In 2013, the Supreme Court declared DOMA unconstitutional holding that it violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Repealing of DOMA was celebrated by many including some of my gay and straight friends. It was also celebrated by many immigration law practitioners since it increased marriage based immigration cases. It gave us the privilege to serve more people through our expertise.

The process for same sex marriage and green card is the same as any other marriage based immigration case. The government requires the same type of evidence such as a marriage certificate, birth certificates, joint documents, etc. We helped Tom and Kevin in each step of their marriage based immigration case.

Throughout the process, from the moment Tom and Kevin retained our office to attending the interview at USCIS, they were so pleasant. Every time they came to see me to ask questions or drop off documents, they greeted me with a hug. Kevin’s mom visited from France and I had the pleasure of meeting a lovely lady. Just like any other mom, she was concerned for her son’s happiness and security. She extended both of her hands as she took my hand and asked me to take good care of him. In the end, Kevin got his green card and they are living together in America happily (or miserably) just like the rest of the married couples.

Whether your case involves same sex marriage and green card or any marriage based immigration case, please contact our office for free legal consultation.

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