Same Sex Immigration: Marriage and Bisexuality
By: Harlan York
June 5, 2016

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.


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


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.

About Harlan York

The first-ever attorney in New Jersey to win “Immigration Lawyer of the Year” from Best Lawyers, Harlan York is former immigration chair of the NJ State Bar Association and former co-chair for the NY State Bar Association CFLS Committee on Immigration. He currently serves on the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) National Practice Management Committee.

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Harlan York & Associates practices law in the areas of Immigration, Deportation Defense, Family Immigration, Corporate Immigration, Naturalization throughout Essex County – Hudson County – Morris County – Passaic County – Somerset County – Middlesex County – Bergen County – New Jersey -Immigration Lawyer – NJ Immigration Lawyer – Jersey City-Newark-Paterson Passaic Elizabeth Edison Woodbridge Toms River Hamilton Trenton Camden Clifton Passaic Garfield Wallington Cherry Hill East Orange Passaic Union City Bayonne Irvington Old Bridge Lakewood North Bergen Vineland Union Wayne Parsippany-Troy Hills New Brunswick Plainfield Bloomfield Perth Amboy East Brunswick West New York West Orange Hackensack Atlantic City Kearny Mount Laurel Montclair Essex Hoboken North Brunswick Belleville. In addition to serving clients in New York, Pennsylvania, the greater United States, and Internationally.

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