It has been a long climb, but same-sex marriage advocates are seeing more and more victories in their fight to have same-sex marriage recognized in many states. Just last year, New Jersey governor Chris Christie dropped his objection to gay marriage in New Jersey and it is now legal in the state.
Since same-sex marriage is legal in New Jersey, how does this affect the immigration status of foreign nationals who are already married or who wish to marry U.S citizens?
In a nutshell, same-sex couples in New Jersey now have all of the same immigration channels available to them as opposite-sex couples. For instance, a U.S. citizen can marry his or her same-sex non-citizen partner and can petition for naturalization of that spouse just the same as a heterosexual couple can.
But what if a same-sex couple was legally married in New Jersey, but now lives in a state that does not recognize same-sex unions? Does this affect the non-citizen’s immigration rights?
Immigration is under the purview of the federal government and the federal government has declared that for immigration purposes it recognizes that legally married same-sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples, regardless of the laws of the state they live in. So, if you were married in the state of New Jersey and move to a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages, the federal government still recognizes your marriage as legal, regardless of the state you live in. You will still be able to apply for federal benefits such as immigration, military spousal benefits, and tax benefits. You just may not be able to apply for state-based benefits.
That being said, the immigration process is still as complicated for same-sex couples as it is for opposite-sex couples. The U.S. government still denies green card and citizenship applications every day, regardless of sexual orientation, so it is advisable that you seek legal help from a law firm experienced in immigration law and its nuances.
A missed deadline or improperly filled out paperwork can mean the difference between a successful immigration outcome and a failed one.
The immigration attorneys at Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo in New Jersey have decades of experience in immigration law and stand ready to help you with all of your immigration needs. Call us at (888) 847-2529 or contact us online to set up a consultation to today.