Your guide to same-sex spousal visas

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage was a landmark. It changed the lives of millions of Americans and has been heralded by many as a step in the right direction in the fight for equality. However, not as many news outlets have pointed out that it is a serious advance in immigration reform as well! Because of the ruling, same-sex couples of which one member is not a U.S. citizen will have the ability to obtain a spousal visa for this person.

“You can sponsor your same-sex spouse for a visa.”

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has declared same-sex marriage legal and ensured it is recognized on the federal level, possibilities have opened up for same-sex couples in the world of immigration. A same-sex couple with one spouse who needs a U.S. visa now has recourse to the same processes available to opposite-sex married couples. Here’s a quick review of how to file for a spousal visa for your same-sex partner:

Remember that the process is no different
Though the country and perhaps certain officials are still getting used to fully recognized same-sex marriage, the process you’ll use to apply for a spousal visa as part of a same-sex marriage is the same as a man and a woman who are married would use. There are resources available to you if you encounter officials who are hostile to you as a couple because of your sexual orientation, but hope for the best – after all, this is simply a spousal visa application.

Are you married yet?
If you are not married to your partner yet, you may apply for a nonimmigrant visa for a fiance(e), known as a K-1. You will need to fill out an I-129F fiance(e) petition to acquire this visa. Once your partner has arrived in the U.S., you can then marry and pursue citizenship through applying for an immigrant visa for a spouse of a U.S. citizen, known as IR1 or CR1. You will need to fill out a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130.

If you are already married
If your spouse currently lives in the U.S. and you are married, that is the point from which you will start the process of obtaining a visa. You will need to fill out an approved I-130 petition for your spouse to obtain the IR1 or CR1 visa.

Note also that these steps apply to any of your immigrant spouse’s minor children as well.