Lesbian Couple

Old Apr 28th 2009, 5:13 pm
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Default Lesbian Couple

Hi everyone,

My partner and I are in a long distance relationship. I live in England, and she lives 3,000 miles away in Boston. We have been together over two years now, and have come to the decision that I am going to move to America so we can begin to build a proper life together.

We've tried time and time again to look at all the information concerning immigration and we're still at a loss. All we know is that it would practically be a crime to admit that we are in a loving, gay relationship.

As for careers (as I'm sure it's going to make some sort of difference) - I am a primary school teacher and my girlfriend has recently finished a degree in publishing, so is looking for something in that field.

Could someone please help us, or point us in the right direction? We fully plan on picking this forum apart, but for now I have a 3,000 mile journey back home.

Thank you in advance.
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Old Apr 28th 2009, 5:27 pm
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Default Re: Lesbian Couple

Seeing if you can fit in with an available visa is the first step

http://britishexpats.com/wiki/Pulask...ork_in_the_USA


You cannot use a marriage visa ...
Federal immigration law does not accept gay marriages
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Old Apr 28th 2009, 5:31 pm
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Default Re: Lesbian Couple

The answer's easy -- you chose the wrong place to live! Have her move to the UK instead. Firstly, there's no problem with immigration between same-sex couples. Secondly, you've already got a job but she hasn't.

The opportunities for you to pursue residency in the US are exceedingly slim.
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Old Apr 28th 2009, 6:09 pm
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Default Re: Lesbian Couple

Originally Posted by tinkerspark
All we know is that it would practically be a crime to admit that we are in a loving, gay relationship.
Well it's not quite that bad - especially in the more civilized states like Massachusetts - but it is, unfortunately, pretty much irrelevant as far as the federal government and immigration issues are concenerned.

Your best bet, as others have said, is to consider bringing your partner over to the UK.
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Old Apr 28th 2009, 6:24 pm
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Default Re: Lesbian Couple

Originally Posted by Ray
You cannot use a marriage visa ...
yet...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniting...n_Families_Act

The two bills are currently in committee. In past years they have died a death there, but attitudes to gay marriage are changing fast, and we have a strong democratic majority in the house and senate (getting stronger by the day) so there's hope that it'll just be a matter of time.

Welcome to British Expats. Ray pointed you at the wiki which will give you the non-marriage based immigration options (not many by the sounds of it, sorry!)

Others have pointed out that the UK does allow domestic partners of it's citizens to live and work in the UK. So that's an option.
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Old Apr 28th 2009, 6:39 pm
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Default Re: Lesbian Couple

Originally Posted by tinkerspark
Could someone please help us, or point us in the right direction? We fully plan on picking this forum apart, but for now I have a 3,000 mile journey back home.

Thank you in advance.
Where were you born? Are you eligible for the Diversity Visa Lottery?

Unfortunately, your chances of obtaining an employment visa based on primary school teaching are extremely small.
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Old Apr 28th 2009, 6:52 pm
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Default Re: Lesbian Couple

Originally Posted by tinkerspark
Hi everyone,

My partner and I are in a long distance relationship. I live in England, and she lives 3,000 miles away in Boston. We have been together over two years now, and have come to the decision that I am going to move to America so we can begin to build a proper life together.

We've tried time and time again to look at all the information concerning immigration and we're still at a loss. All we know is that it would practically be a crime to admit that we are in a loving, gay relationship.

As for careers (as I'm sure it's going to make some sort of difference) - I am a primary school teacher and my girlfriend has recently finished a degree in publishing, so is looking for something in that field.

Could someone please help us, or point us in the right direction? We fully plan on picking this forum apart, but for now I have a 3,000 mile journey back home.

Thank you in advance.
Hi:

As an initial point, one of the changes I've personally witnessed since I was admitted to the bar in 1975 is homosexual acts have gone from being criminal [note that I do not say "practically"] to not being criminal at all. In 2003, the Supreme Court, in Lawrence v. Texas ruled all sodomy laws in the US to be unconstitutional.

So, your relationship is not criminal. That battle is over. And the culture of the U.S. is changing a lot.

However, the battle lines are now drawn over marriage. Being a resident of California, I well aware of that issue -- don't get me started. As you probably know, there is a strong political movement to attack and restrict marriage. Unfortunately, this contempt for the value of marriage is ensconced at the Federal level by the 1996 "Defense of Marriage Act."

Your relationship will, in no way, act as a bar of immigration. However, it will not help either.

So, the bottom line is, if you want to be together in the US, you have to figure out a way to immigrate independently of your relationship.

Good luck.
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Old Apr 28th 2009, 6:56 pm
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Default Re: Lesbian Couple

Originally Posted by notacrime
yet...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniting...n_Families_Act

The two bills are currently in committee. In past years they have died a death there, but attitudes to gay marriage are changing fast, and we have a strong democratic majority in the house and senate (getting stronger by the day) so there's hope that it'll just be a matter of time.

Welcome to British Expats. Ray pointed you at the wiki which will give you the non-marriage based immigration options (not many by the sounds of it, sorry!)

Others have pointed out that the UK does allow domestic partners of it's citizens to live and work in the UK. So that's an option.
Hi:

I would not count on changes in the law -- it might happen, it might not.

As for the Democratic majorities in Congress, it pays to note that California is a heavily Democratic state which voted for President Obama and passed Proposition 8 on the same day.

But then the campaign against Proposition 8 was poorly run. Given the gender and orientation mix in our suite, it was a topic of conversation.
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Old Apr 28th 2009, 9:11 pm
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Default Re: Lesbian Couple

I have counselled hundreds of same-sex couples over the years, and it's safe to say that -- given the present state of the law -- you're going to have to be creative and patient. You mentioned looking for information and counsel, so I have included a number of citations here that, if you have not found them yet, may be of assistance.

DOMA. It is Immigration 101 that, because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (1 USC ยง7), no US government benefit can be given based on a same-sex marriage. That prohibition extends to granting Legal Permanent Resident status, too, I'm afraid. I suspect you already know that.

UAFA. As has been mentioned, the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) has been introduced in the US Congress in one iteration or another for quite a number of years. It has been introduced again this session. Whether there is the political will and intestinal fortitude on behalf of Representatives and Senators is another matter. I do not have a sense of whether it will be passed this term or not. However, I do know that Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) is on the Obama Administration's agenda for late summer or early fall. The scuttlebutt around the Beltway is that UAFA will be incorporated to a CIR bill. Another way to put this is: UAFA is unlikely to pass or be acted upon as a unique, separate bill. Thus for those who believe UAFA should pass, it will be important to urge the passage of CIR.

I have regularly, in various contexts, urged Americans and Legal Permanent Residents, both straight and queer, to contact their elected representatives at the Federal level to urge passage of CIR and UAFA. I also think that those inclined to do so should write letters via snail mail as well as phoning or e-mailing. Why? Because elected reps still recognize that those who will take the time (especially in this digital age) to write, sign, stamp, and send a letter must be very committed to an issue. A letter tends to get a bit more weight than an e-mail or phone call. When? Well, now would be a good time. And after you hear that CIR has been introducted in the Congress, that would be a good time, too.

Legitimacy. You mentioned that it feels as if it's "a crime to admit that we are in a loving, gay relationship." I hope you know -- as others have stated here -- that it is not a crime at all in the USA. As disinclined as the USA can be at times to accept nature, we have moved on a bit from the legal-illegal distinction. Further and more specifically, the ground of inadmissibility regarding homosexuality was removed from the Immigration and Nationality Act over 15 years ago, and consensual same-sex sexual activity was completely decriminalized nationwide by Lawrence v. Texas (539 US 558) in 2003. (If you are so inclined, the decision is inspirational, considering that legal decisions tend to be so dry.)

One note: although it is NOT a crime to be queer or to have a same-sex partner, the US border guards are VERY willing to use your admission of "visiting my girlfriend" as an excuse to accuse you of having the ulterior motive of moving to, staying, living, and working in the USA. So I would be circumspect at the border checkpoint.

As for recognition, well, Federally there is none yet. (See the discussion about DOMA above.) However, if you are thinking of getting married, and your partner is in Boston, then marriage is possible in the State of Massachusetts. Although you would not be eligible for Legal Permanent Residence at this time based on this marriage, you would have some protections and inclusions from the State. For information about how to marry in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts State Law Library has a pretty good webpage. Naturally, I do NOT counsel getting married and staying unlawfully in the USA.

Whether the UK Home Office will recognize this marriage for purposes of the American emigrating to the UK, I do not know. The Home Office at one point had a page that said no; then, it was modified. You should probably seek UK counsel on this question.

Other Options in the USA. What I tell all my same-sex couple clients is that "planning is critical." One just has to accept that legally getting to the USA and staying will NOT be as easy for us as it is for opposite-sex couples. At least, not at present.

Because queer couples cannot marry and obtain immigration benefits, the other avenues must be explored. F (student) visas are appropriate for those of roughly university age or who can make a good argument for needing the schooling. An alien who works abroad for a company willing to transfer that individual to the USA could qualify for an L (company transferee) visa, if the alien has a job that is sufficiently managerial or executive in nature. One visa that I find works rather well for entrepreneurially-inclined queer couples -- notwithstanding the jaundiced view held by some posters on this bulletin board -- is the E (treaty investor) visa, which enables an alien to invest in buying or creating a business in the USA. Quite a number of my queer clients have used this visa to come to and remain long term in the USA. D (crew) visas work for flight attendants.

Do I note correctly that the UK citizen just graduated in media and publishing? If so, and if she can get a job with an appropriate media outlet, perhaps she could qualify for an I (representative of foreign media) visa.

Any of these visas could act as a "bridge" so that the two of you can be together until such time as the laws may change.

I always encourage those who are facing this issue to come in and have a good long discussion. An immigration attorney who (a) is queer him/her self or queer-friendly, (b) will take the time to sit and really interview you -- get the story, as it were -- and truly listen to the facts surrounding the two of you, and (c) is willing to help you through the imagineering process is crucial to the success of the matter and may uncover other avenues. But it does, frankly, take time and patience. We are lawyers, not miracle workers.

Two Lions. Finally, I note at least one suggestion that the American could emigrate to England. And that is certainly an option. Others here on British Expats are better equipped than I am to advise you on this point.

A Final, Personal Note. I usually try to stay very professionally detached from these postings; 'way too much heat is stirred up sometimes, and because of the mean-spiritedness of some posters, I do not like to bring my personal stuff into the discussions. However, for what it's worth, here are my own personal observations: Stuart Folinsky is quite right. This nation is changing quite a lot. In fact, in today's New York Times, there was an interesting article about how the Republican Party is finding that the "oppose gay marriage" mantra of the conservatives is fast losing traction among middle-of-the-road Republicans and those under the age of 40.

For myself, I married my husband Andrew (who is English) here in California in autumn 2008, before the passage of Proposition 8. We did not want an impersonal ceremony in a county registrar's office, but neither of us is particularly religious, so we did not want a church wedding -- besides I look terrible in white and can't stutter step! So: who should officiate? I could have asked a judge friend, but that's a bit too much like work, and who wants to be married by some old guy in a black dress? Then, I remembered an old friend, a community activist with whom I have served on many committees and worked on many an issue: she happens to be empowered to do marriage ceremonies.

So on 12 October, in Los Angeles, California, after 8 years as a couple, Chinese-American J and English Andrew were married in a private, civil ceremony at Congregation K**l A*** .... by Rabbi Denise *****!

I had to think twice about this. What on earth would my family think? Not only was I marrying a GUY -- one whom they knew and liked, admittedly -- but in a synagogue? And the last time I checked, Andrew's family is C of E; I can only imagine what they would think, tho' as before, they knew me and liked me. "Only in California, eh?" The upshot was there was such an outpouring of wishes and support and love from our friends and family, we were stunned and moved.

So, although the US government and certain segments of the US body politic are not terribly supportive of us, I am cautiously optimistic about a change in this immigration situation for same-sex couples within a couple of years. Until then, I urge you to do some creative thinking, remain flexible, and find immigration counsel who is willing to work with you, listen to you, think out loud with you.

If there is any way I can help you, please let me know. Best,

--J

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Old Apr 28th 2009, 9:48 pm
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Default Re: Lesbian Couple

Originally Posted by JCraigFong
Do I note correctly that the UK citizen just graduated in media and publishing? If so, and if she can get a job with an appropriate media outlet, perhaps she could qualify for an I (representative of foreign media) visa.
I believe the USC is the publisher, UKC is a primary school teacher.
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Old Apr 28th 2009, 9:58 pm
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Default Re: Lesbian Couple

Originally Posted by JCraigFong
I usually try to stay very professionally detached from these postings; 'way too much heat is stirred up sometimes, and because of the mean-spiritedness of some posters, I do not like to bring my personal stuff into the discussions.
Can't personally recall any overt prejudice against queers (your term) by regular posters on this board. If you see any, please do alert the moderators as I'm sure it won't be tolerated. Lawyers are, of course, fair game....whatever their sexual orientation.
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Old Apr 28th 2009, 10:01 pm
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Default Re: Lesbian Couple

Originally Posted by Bill_S
I believe the USC is the publisher, UKC is a primary school teacher.
Bill, I just did a re-read of the original posting. You are right. Hmm. Well, that means we're looking at a possible H-1 for a teacher. There are, after all, a few H-1s left, although who knows how much longer they'll be available.

--J
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Old Apr 28th 2009, 10:02 pm
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Default Re: Lesbian Couple

Originally Posted by tinkerspark
Hi everyone,

My partner and I are in a long distance relationship. I live in England, and she lives 3,000 miles away in Boston. We have been together over two years now, and have come to the decision that I am going to move to America so we can begin to build a proper life together.

We've tried time and time again to look at all the information concerning immigration and we're still at a loss. All we know is that it would practically be a crime to admit that we are in a loving, gay relationship.

As for careers (as I'm sure it's going to make some sort of difference) - I am a primary school teacher and my girlfriend has recently finished a degree in publishing, so is looking for something in that field.

Could someone please help us, or point us in the right direction? We fully plan on picking this forum apart, but for now I have a 3,000 mile journey back home.

Thank you in advance.
I agree with fatbrit; getting married and then her moving to the UK would seem to be the easiest solution to the problem of you two being together (which I assume is the most important consideration), unless you have some other way to move to the US independently of your relationship.
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Old Apr 28th 2009, 10:06 pm
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Default Re: Lesbian Couple

Originally Posted by JCraigFong
Bill, I just did a re-read of the original posting. You are right. Hmm. Well, that means we're looking at a possible H-1 for a teacher. There are, after all, a few H-1s left, although who knows how much longer they'll be available.

--J
The local news (after the "sex story and murder of the day, and before getting on to the promotions thinly veiled as news items ) contains mainly items about the mass lay-offs of teachers here in Phoenix. Not wanting to dampen your enthusiasm and all that....
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Old Apr 28th 2009, 10:10 pm
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Default Re: Lesbian Couple

Originally Posted by fatbrit
The local news (after the "sex story and murder of the day, and before getting on to the promotions thinly veiled as news items ) contains mainly items about the mass lay-offs of teachers here in Phoenix. Not wanting to dampen your enthusiasm and all that....
Teachers in California are facing the same economic difficulties. However, with some of the economic stimulus package targeted for schools, there may be some possibilities. Further, depending on her work the UK citizen might be able to teach or have special training with special needs children. Teachers who can handle special ed seem to be having fewer layoffs, at least that is my impression here.

--J
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