About ten percent of those who become legal permanent residents of the U.S. each year are sponsored by their husbands or wives. One half of the couple is an American citizen and that person petitions the government to let the other person live permanently in the U.S. or, in some cases, become a citizen themselves. It can be a lengthy and complex process. For same-sex couples, it’s even more complicated.
While same-sex marriage is legal in six states, the federal government doesn’t recognize those unions. That means that an American citizen can’t sponsor his or her same-sex spouse to become a permanent resident. Couples deal with this in different ways — by applying for other kinds of visas, getting sponsorship through an employer or by leaving the U.S. to live in a country where same-sex marriage is legal.
Most are watching and waiting to see what will happen with the Defense of Marriage Act, which has been challenged by same-sex couples in which one partner wants to sponsor the other as their spouse.
Has this issue touched your life? How has it affected you? What choices have you had to make because your partner was born in a different country?
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OPB | Feb. 22, 2017