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Bi-national same-sex couples struggle with immigration issues

United States citizens who are engaged to be married to a foreign national can use the immigration laws as an avenue to bring their loved ones into the country to begin their life together. However, there is stress and anxiety that goes along with applying for fiancé visas and marriage petitions.

For United States citizens in same-sex relationships, the process can be even more traumatic, and is often unsuccessful.

Because the Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage as solely between a man and a woman, same-sex non-citizen spouses are typically not granted legal status in the United States like opposite-sex couples are.

According to a recent article in The Huffington Post, there are approximately 28,500 same-sex couples with one United States citizen partner and one noncitizen partner. At one point or another, many of these couples will have to face the immigration system if they hope to live in the United States together.

The problem is that even if the couple was legally married in a state that recognizes it, petitioning the federal government for legal status for the noncitizen partner is not an option because the federal government doesn't recognize the marriage.

This is forcing many American citizens to move to their partners' home countries, with the only other option being to split up when visitor visas expire.

While the Obama administration said earlier this year that it will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, the law is still in place, leaving same-sex couples who are legally married with little recourse.

Hopefully, this is an issue that will get the attention that it deserves from policymakers in upcoming months.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Same-Sex Couples Face Stark Immigration Options, Especially For Older, Disabled Partners," Nov. 19, 2011.

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