Today, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) non-citizens have the same rights and protections under U.S. immigration law as all other non-citizens. However, LGBT non-citizens often face unique challenges when facing immigration law issues. According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, an estimated 267,000 undocumented immigrants identify themselves as LGBT. Hoping to flee discrimination, trauma, and persecution, some LGBT individuals have sought new beginnings and opportunities in the U.S. and are now seeking work visas, lawful permanent residency, green cards and citizenship. Others require the assistance of an experienced New York immigration lawyer to update their gender marker on official documents or navigating family-based immigration issues.
The New York immigration lawyers at Bretz & Coven, LLP understand the issues LGBT non-citizens face and offer immigration legal services in an LGBT-friendly environment. Whether you or your loved one are seeking citizenship, asylum, or are facing deportation, our immigration lawyers are available to help protect your legal rights and attainable pathways to legal residence or citizenship.
Marriage Cases and Petitions
Today, same-sex marriage is legal in every state in the U.S. LGBT non-citizens who are married to a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, green card holder, or visa holder, may petition for their immigration status to be protected through their same-sex marriage.
A petition must be filed along with the correct documentation. The application will be determined according to applicable immigration law. Non-citizens may not be denied protection from his or her spouse because of their LGBT or same-sex marriage status. Our experienced immigration law attorneys may assist you in filling out and filing the necessary documents in order to become protected through your same-sex marriage.
Non-citizens should also take solace in understanding that, even if they fear that same-sex marriage will no longer be legal in the future, it is extremely unlikely. A U.S. Supreme Court decision recognized same-sex marriage, which makes it difficult to be overturned.
Abused Spouse Cases
If you have been a victim of a crime, including spousal abuse, you may be entitled to obtain a U visa or a T visa. Moreover, there are special laws and rules specifically for spousal abuse. U visas are made available to immigrants who have been a victim of a certain crime, whereas T visas cover an array of crimes, including human and sex trafficking, as well as forced labor. Victims of domestic abuse may also be protected through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). These special types of visas may protect LGBT non-citizens from deportation, give them the ability to work legally, and provide the option to apply for a green card.
Political Asylum Based on Gender Preference
Many LGBT non-citizens come to the U.S. because they seek protection from persecution in their home country. Asylum is a form of protection that may be granted to a non-citizen that flees from their country because they fear they will be harmed because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, identified gender, or sexual orientation.
If you have fled your home country because of fear of persecution or harm due to your LGBT status, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York LGBT asylum lawyer. The time to file an asylum protection order is limited. The order must be filed within one year of arriving in the U.S. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact our New York LGBT immigration lawyers at (212) 267-2555.