Successful I-130 Petition For Same-Sex Marriage
- Applicant: Ms. Rodriguez
- Nationality: Mexican
- Case Type: I-130
- Time: 6 Months
- Same sex marriage
- Secretive relationship-little to no joint documentation and people willing to provide sworn affidavits
- Hard to prove it was a legitimate marriage
- The beneficiary applying for a green card was previously unaware she was illegally in the U.S.
- Highly unconventional situation
As our society grows and changes socially, our laws change to reflect our values. However, simply legalizing same-sex marriage does not with the swoop of a pen fix or cover every legal hole in our system. And unfortunately for Ms. Rodriguez and her partner, they found themselves potentially at one of problematic, or at the least unexplored, areas of our immigration system. Ms. Rodriguez and her girlfriend met in the middle school. They were together for years and years, but they were very secretive. Both came from families that may have reacted negatively if they found out about the relationship. All the same, they got married and began inquiring about an I-130 petition for Ms. Rodriguez’s wife so that she could get a green card.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
Those familiar with the process already see the problem-traditionally, United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) case workers look for certain markers to show them that the marriage was not fraudulent or only for the purposes of obtaining a green card. Those things include children, photos, living together, joint bank accounts, amongst other indicators of married life. But for a couple who largely hid their love from their families and also friends, how do you go about proving your marriage is legitimate to an officer who will not see all of the usual signposts of legitimacy? This was obviously the biggest challenge facing Ms. Rodriguez and her partner, but it wasn’t the only one.
“Even though legislation had passed providing guidance as to how United States Citizen and Immigration Services should review such cases, the case was still highly unconventional. Furthermore, our clients had little to no documentation to provide evidence of a bona fide marriage. They didn’t believe in their own case, they weren’t confident. Part of what we do is help them gain that confidence.” – Case-worker
It turns out that Ms. Rodriguez’s partner was in the country illegally, which she did not even know until she tried to apply for nursing school. It was a unique wrinkle in a case, one that would likely send less dedicated law offices the other direction if the uniqueness of the case wasn’t enough already. Also an issue was their confidence. These types of cases are already known for being difficult. The interview process is intimidating, they might separate you from your partner and interview you for hours on end and then send you home with no real clue as to your status. And that is for the conventional cases, never mind what Ms. Rodriguez and her partner were facing. When we took their case, we understood that not only would we have to think outside of the box regarding what documentation we would have to secure for them to prove that their marriage was legitimate, but we would also have to work with them to build up their confidence level before their interview.
To that end, we did a complete analysis of their background, of their relationship, of their histories together. We educated them thoroughly on the process, of every step to take and when to take it, an especially important part of the plan given that Ms. Rodriguez’s partner was technically in the United States illegally. Then we began interview preparation. We gave them a questionnaire to fill out and to memorize, we taught them how to answer questions properly and completely so that there would be no doubt as to the fullness and truthfulness of their answers. We even staged a mock interview for the couple to prepare them even further.
For documentation, we knew that we had to think outside of the box regarding marital records. We focused more on financials, on receipts of places they had been together, and on proof of time spent together. We also focused on phone records, a major aspect given that they did not have much proof of living together. When we had everything that we thought would make a strong case, we compiled it all for our clients and provided them extra copies. We wanted them to be as prepared and ready as possible in order to resolve their case quickly and efficiently once it reached USCIS.
Ms. Rodriguez’s petition was approved quickly and relatively painlessly. Ms. Rodriguez’s partner now has her green card and is working towards getting herself citizenship in the United States. As a plus, because we often keep up with our clients after their cases are settled, we also know that Ms. Rodriguez’s partner has also begun nursing school, a boon to her and her wife.
*Name has been changed to protect client identity
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