Binational transgender couples received welcome news from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on April 10. The policies on transgender marriages are now to be updated, and will likely provide couples an easier time gaining permanent residency or citizenship in the United States.
USCIS stated that it will now use the updated gender identity of a person when looking at fiance visa applications. The individual will have to present a birth certificate that has been updated to reflect the individual’s current gender identity, or a court or medical document that shows recognition of this new gender.
Transgender rights advocates applaud the effort, with many saying the USCIS memorandum is a step toward further equality within the United States.
“Today’s announcement is another example of the Obama Administration’s long-term commitment to equality,” Harper Jean Tobin of the National Center for Transgender Equality said on April 13. “These revisions mean that trans people and their families can obtain accurate identification while maintaining their privacy. It’ll also reduce bureaucratic delays, intrusive questions and wrongful denials of immigration benefits.”
One particular clause of interest to transgender individuals may be the issue of timing of the marriage. According to the USCIS April 10 memorandum, the legal change of gender must have occurred prior to the marriage for it to be recognized as a heterosexual marriage and make the couple eligible for the right to apply for residency.
While transgender couples are likely rejoicing over their new benefits, many binational same sex couples still struggle to gain the right to citizenship for both partners. Several couples have stated that their lack of a right to sponsor their spouse for green card is unconstitutional, according to The Associated Press.