There are many ways in which a non-U.S. citizen can gain citizenship. A green card is a common way for people to earn citizenship, as the cards grants permanent residence and can lead to U.S. citizenship. An immigrant can also attempt to become a naturalized citizen, or they can claim asylum if they are being persecuted in their homeland and require a safe haven.
But one of the most reliable ways for someone to gain U.S. citizenship is through marriage — and in this regard, same-sex couples are not afforded the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts due to the Defense of Marriage Act.
As a federal law, DOMA supersedes any state laws that permit same-sex marriage, and thus same-sex couples who are married will not have their union recognized during federal matters. If someone in a same-sex marriage is faced with deportation or they believe their marriage grants them citizenship and, thus, protection from certain immigration matters, they are unfortunately incorrect.
However, the Department of Homeland Security has said that they are “de-prioritizing” the deportations of same-sex spouses, much like the federal government’s promise to cut back on the deportation of young people who were brought to this country at an early age (which then turned into deferred action) and those who have no criminal record.
In the meantime, same-sex couples will have to look to other avenues for citizenship. One person who was profiled on the issue of immigration and same-sex couples is attempting to renew her O-visa. O-visas have varying levels and types, but they are given to people with extraordinary skill or ability in the fields of science, arts, education, business and athletics. An O3 visa can be extended to family members of an O-visa recipient.
Source: Huffington Post, “Immigration Discrimination Is Another Hurdle Many Same-Sex Couples Face,” Zach Weissmueller, Oct. 10, 2012
- Local immigration issues almost always go federal, and the complications that can come from dealing with different sets of rules or laws should be handled by an experienced attorney. To learn more, please visit our Los Angeles immigration page.