Same Sex Immigration: Marriage and Bisexuality

The New York Times published a piece a few years ago called “Bisexual: A Label With Layers.”

There were no direct references to immigration law, but I immediately thought of our work, especially the recent green card applications we have successfully completed in same sex immigration marriage. As the Immigration Service points out on its very own website, same sex immigration marriage is now to be treated equally with opposite sex immigration marriage. At Harlan York & Associates we have helped many same sex couples get their green cards through marriage, but in my opinion an area that still needs work is the issue of bisexuality.

Immigration Officers don’t always understand that bisexual relationships are valid

Bisexual marriages can get called into question by officers that don’t understand that a person can validly love both men and women.

OR that a person might have married a man or woman in their home country, because in that country they would be persecuted -or even killed- for being gay (We even have won asylum cases on these grounds).

Marriage fraud is a very serious offense, but valid relationships don’t look the way they did twenty years ago (at least on the outside). This can make it tough for couples who are bisexual, or even those that have “open” relationships. Immigration will generally hold hearings with all married couples to confirm their relationships are valid, and officers will need to see evidence that the same sex immigration marriage is real.  This proof – along with questions about the couple’s life together – are fundamental to achieving approval of green card.

Immigration Officers may question the validity of your relationship if:

  1. You are an immigrant or American with a divorce from an earlier heterosexual marriage
  2. You are in an open relationship where it is agreed that you can have multiple partners of either sex

What should you do if you are bisexual and hoping to get your green card through marriage?

Until we become more enlightened as a culture, my advice is to consult with the best immigration attorney you can find, and review the potential of an expert psychological opinion to verify bisexual tendencies in certain cases. It might seem like a step backwards, but it can really help to be proactive at the start, and not end up with the worst case scenario: being deported back to a country that may harm you for who you love.

As Immigration Judge Dorothy Harbeck notes in her article “Asking and Telling,” that was published in the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, a developing area of asylum and related law involves applications based on sexual and/or gender orientation.  Judge Harbeck identifies a group as ” lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or intersex (LGBTI) individuals.”

The area of asylum law and protecting LGBTI (sometimes referred to as LGBTQ) is very important. I have referenced it in other blog posts as well as seminars that I have presented.

The relatively new trends in asylum law and brand new developments in same sex immigration marriage show how quickly we have to educate ourselves as immigration lawyers so that we can continue to help those in need.

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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