In many cultures, the topic of sexual orientation is still a taboo subject, even among close family and friends. Most countries have not legalized same-sex marriage. In Russia, for example, gays and lesbians still face extreme discrimination and persecution. Just last May, Chinese government arrested LGBT activists who were handing out flyers during International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) in Guangzhou, China.
As a result, cultural barriers can make it difficult for ethnic and racial-minority LGBT community members to be informed about their rights to receive permanent residency status and other immigration benefits in the United States. There are very few law firms or attorneys that are attuned to the special needs of the immigrant LGBT community.
Julie Oliver-Zhang, founding partner at Oliver-Zhang Law, especially understands the difficulties that gay and lesbian Chinese immigrants can face in achieving legal status in the US. “As someone who immigrated to the United States at a young age, my family dealt with frequent difficulties with language barriers and inferior treatment from the most mundane customer service issues to not being able to get legal help,” says Oliver-Zhang. “My goal is to provide a safe space for LGBT Chinese immigrants and be a resource for those who want to stay in the US permanently. How wonderful would it be to reunite families and loved ones? We hope that LGBT couples around the world will be able to benefit from the new, equal immigration laws.”
Recently, Oliver-Zhang Law published an article in the Chinese World Journal, the largest Chinese language paper in the United States. The translation of the text of the article is below and can be found at http://tinyurl.com/nsalp4d
“On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 decision held Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional. Same-sex couples are now entitled to the same marital federal benefits as opposite-sex couples. Thereafter, President Obama and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, both welcomed the decision of the Court and promised that federal benefits for same-sex, legally married couples will be implemented swiftly, smoothly, and equally as opposite-sex spouses. On January 10, 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder stated with regard to Utah’s same-sex marriage ban: “Last June, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in United States v. Windsor, holding Americans in same-sex marriages are entitled to equal protection and equal treatment under the law. This ruling marked a historic step towards equality for all American families.”
Currently, same-sex marriage is legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia. For those who have endured prevalent discriminatory laws in the LBGT community, this decision is not merely a progressive symbol of equality for gay rights, but it has for the first time, enabled same-sex couples to apply for immigration benefits.
Until recently, obtaining immigration benefits, such as visas and green cards through same-sex marriage, was highly unlikely. Most same-sex marriage immigration benefit applications were rejected. The effect of the Windsor decision, however, was definitive. Four days after the Supreme Court’s decision, gay couple Julian Marsh and Traian Povov received their notice for green card approval. In another case, an American citizen applied for immediate family immigration for his spouse who was illegally present in the United States. The immigration court initially began deportation proceedings against the foreign spouse, but the removal proceedings were terminated after the repeal of DOMA.
Attorney Julie Oliver-Zhang explains that gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender same-sex couples are eligible for immigration benefits even if they reside in a state that has not yet legalized same-sex marriage. If one spouse is a green card holder or a U.S. citizen, then marriage in one of the 16 states or D.C. that has legalized gay marriage will meet the requirements for the application of immigration benefits. Same-sex couples do not need to establish state residency, but merely get married in a legal gay marriage jurisdiction to be immediately eligible for green card or visa benefits for foreign spouses and their children. Depending on the circumstances, even if the foreign same-sex partner has illegally entered or resided without documentation in America for a number of years, they may still qualify for a green card.
Same-sex partners of U.S. citizens who are living abroad are eligible for fiancé or fiancée visas that will allow them to quickly travel to the United States and get married. Once the foreign spouse obtains permanent residency and become American citizens, they can apply for immigration benefits for their immediate relatives, such as parents and siblings. With the change in the new immigration laws, foreign LGBT partners can finally be reunited with their families.
The new immigration rights is a positive step towards remedying a history of discrimination against same-sex couples, allowing those in the LGBT community to achieve the American dream through swift and effective immigration processing.”
If you have questions regarding same-sex green card or other immigration matters, please feel free to contact Oliver-Zhang Law for a free consultation at 202-643-1110, or [email protected]. We provide professional, caring counsel to the Chinese community.
【纽约讯】2013年6月26日，美国最高法院以一票之差，判定美国联邦婚姻保护法违宪，因而合法婚姻的同性伴侣从此能享受到与异性伴侣相同的联邦福利。随后，美国总统欧巴马和国家安全部长Janet Napolitano都先后发表声明，欢迎美国最高法院的裁决，并承诺将确保合法同性婚姻能像传统异性婚姻一样迅速快捷地获得联邦福利及移民权益。 2014年1月10日, 美国司法部长Eric Holder 在关于美国犹他州同性婚姻的禁令公开宣布,「美国同性婚姻享有平等的保护，依法平等对待。这项历史性的裁决为所有美国家庭走向了平等的一步。」
在此之前，通过同性结婚获取合法移民身份的希望十分渺茫，其中大部分的申请都遭到驳回。该判决效果显著，仅仅在联邦最高法院作出决定4天以后，已婚同性伴侣Julian Marsh和Traian Povov便收到了绿卡申请通过的通知。先前，一位美国公民为同性伴侣申请家庭移民遭拒，因而其外籍丈夫被列入递解程式。得知婚姻保护法违宪后，移民法官立即终止了相关法律诉讼。
詹久谊律师解释, 身处同性婚姻不合法州的同性伴侣也不用为如何注册结婚而担心。只要其中一方为绿卡持有者或美国公民，在同性婚姻合法的16个州或华府结婚，不用长久居住, 即符合移民法要求，并可为同性伴侣和孩子即刻申请绿卡移民。虽然同性伴侣也许数年非法居留在美国，根据情况, 他们也可能有资格获得绿卡。身处异国而分居的同性伴侣可靠未婚夫, 未婚妻申请签证来美结婚。外籍同性伴侣持有美国永久居留权后可为亲属, 像父母和兄弟姐妹,申请移民签证。今后, 外籍同性伴侣和配偶及亲属可在美国相聚团圆。同性婚姻伴侣移民平等的权利, 改善了长久歧视的遭遇，让许多同性伴侣亦可凭借高效快捷的新亲属移民，实现美国梦。
如果您有关于同性伴侣婚姻绿卡等相关移民事务，欢迎与詹久谊律师事务所联系, 免费咨询202-643-1110 或电子邮件[email protected]. 我们的网站是www.oliverzhanglaw.com。我们为您提供细心专业的中文法律顾问服务。
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