I-130 For Same-Sex Taiwanese Couple
- Applicant: Ms. Chen*
- Nationality: Taiwanese
- Applying For: Petition for Alien Relative, and Application for Permanent Residency
- Case Type: I-130, I-485
- Time: 6 months
- Same-sex marriage
- Petitioner had a history of heterosexual relationships in the past, which can make a USCIS officer a little more suspicious
- Petitioner did not have an income at the time of the petition
As society moves forward into more modern viewpoints, our laws change to reflect the changing of our values. Such is the case regarding same-sex marriages. However, sweeping changes to the legality of same-sex marriages, whether at the federal or state level, often stresses a system that has never had to deal with the legality of same-sex marriages before. Often caseworkers reviewing cases involving family petitions have certain patterns, traits, and road markers they like to see established in a case before they can go ahead and approve it. It is this way that they expose fraudulent marriages that were only made to try to get one of the member’s green card. However, even in 2018, many caseworkers do not have such maps for same-sex marriage cases. It is not so much a legal grey area, as the legality of the marriages is not in question, but it is a grey area in terms of many caseworkers not knowing exactly what to look for when assessing fraud in same-sex marriages. Many of the things they look for can be potential pitfalls for same-sex couples: documentation of joint ownership of property, joint tenancy, and combined financial resources are some examples of documents that opposite-sex couples can easily produce that same-sex couples may have trouble producing if their relationship needed to be secretive for any reason.
Our client, Ms. Chen, had this and other factors working against her. One of the other factors working against her was that she had a prior history of being in an opposite-sex marriage previously in her life. We worried that this would be a red flag for any caseworker working her case. While it is not the caseworker’s job to adjudicate any person’s sexuality, the caseworker might have become more suspicious that this new marriage was only made to obtain a green card for her new wife. Another problem Ms. Chen had was that she did not have an income. Caseworkers like to see jobs and positive income flow; they take it as proof that the petitioner can help support the person being petitioned. Ms. Chen did not have an income to report, but she did have assets in the form of property. Assets generally aren’t seen as positive factors in these cases, as assets generally drain your monetary resources.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
All of the above meant that we had to get creative with our arguments for Ms. Chen. Luckily for Ms. Chen and her wife, they were able to lead open lives of love. Thus, they had much documentation that caseworkers would look for in opposite-sex marriages. They had joint tenancy and joined financial resources. This did much of the work to smooth out the fact that not only was it a same-sex marriage, but that one of the members of the marriage had a previous history of being in an opposite-sex marriage. We were able to provide affidavits for those directly in the petition as well as friends and family attesting to the legitimacy of their marriage, something that we believed deeply helped their case.
In terms of the assets, we were able to argue that Ms. Chen’s assets would be a boon to her financially. The key here was that her assets were properties. Whereas a struggling business or some other type of asset is harder to prove will be an economic boon to the client, the property is fairly easy to sell to the caseworker. It is not a difficult explanation to show how renting or selling property could increase Ms. Chen’s income.
What was important for us was to provide all of these arguments clearly and concisely for Ms. Chen and her wife. We believe that in doing the work ahead of time, sending our clients to their interviews with stacks of important and useful documentation, and preparing them for the interview leads not only to more successful cases overall but faster cases. Some firms have no qualms about waiting for a Request for Evidence (RFE) to provide all the necessary documentation. Waiting for an RFE generally means that the client did not have a successful interview, which stresses them, and it costs the clients in more time and more money spent on legal fees.
“We always try to draft an affidavit of support for our clients. We believe the preparatory work that we do for our clients is the key to our fast and high success rate.” – Cathy Hsu, Account Manager
Ms. Chen’s petition was approved within six months of her hiring us on to represent her. They went into their interview highly prepared and were quickly approved. Now Ms. Chen and her wife can move forward knowing that their immigration status is clear, hopefully lifting a great deal of weight off of their shoulders so they can start their new life together.
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