July marked the first time in the United States’ history where same sex couple’s visa applications would be treated in the same manner as heterosexual couples. During that month, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the organization would begin reviewing visas, green cards and other immigration documents for partners in same-sex relationships who were with current U.S. citizens.
According to ABC News, there are currently approximately 28,000 binational same sex couples who need a visa to legally stay together.
While the policy change is being ushered in by much relief and happiness, the process of filling out and sending in a visa is still a tricky road for many couples to navigate. To assist couples who are currently or will soon be sending their visas off, local advocacy groups are providing assistance.
In Long Beach, Calif., many binational couples were assisted in the process through a workshop, according to local news source the Long Beach Press-Telegram. The workshop, entitled, “DOMA and Immigration Benefits,” was held at the Long Beach LGBT Center on August 16.
The workshop was held due to the number of local residents who reached out for help.
“Within hours after the Supreme Court decision, I was getting calls from the center asking about immigration attorneys who are LGBT friendly and what is the process to petition for a gay or lesbian spouse,” Miguel Montalva, an organizer with the Long Beach Immigration Rights Coalition told the source. “Immigration law is pretty tricky, so we decided to do a workshop.”
Local immigration attorney Maribel Reynoso Blunt told the Press-Telegram that the main purpose behind the workshop was to educate people on how complex immigration processes can be.
“People think everyone qualifies, but that’s not true,” Reynoso Blunt explained. “There are numerous potential obstacles – Did they come here illegally? Did they overstay their visa? Did they commit a crime, even a misdemeanor? There are a lot of issues.”