May 18, 2009: Are Same Sex Marriages Valid For Immigration Purposes?

Are Same Sex Marriages Valid For Immigration Purposes?

Two lesbian friends of mine live in England. One is a US Citizen who went to the UK three years ago and is studying for her Masters of Philosophy in Education and is on a current student visa. She is in love with a lady who is a UK citizen. I understand that they could be married in Iowa, USA, and that then my US citizen friend would be permitted residency and the right to work in the UK. Or, could my friend petition for the UK citizen and bring her over to the USA as her spouse?
— Anonymous

Regarding UK immigration laws, those questions should be asked of an attorney specializing in immigration to the UK. Concerning whether a marriage recognized in Iowa of two person of the same sex is valid for U.S. immigration purposes, the immigration laws of the USA do not recognize same-sex marriages.

Even if the marriage is legal in the state where performed, if the US citizen spouse files a permanent resident visa petition for his or her spouse, the petition would be denied. In a memorandum published by the USCIS on April 16, 2004, this issue was addressed as follows: “no legal authority permits recognition of homosexual relationships as ‘marriages’ for purposes of immigration and nationality laws, regardless of whether the relationship may be recognized as a ‘marriage’ under the law where the relationship came into existence”. This may change. There are bills pending in this session of the U.S. Congress which, if enacted into law, would overturn this policy.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys

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