Thursday, January 29, 2015

HIV Positive a Problem for Marriage Green Card?

I was very happy in 2010 when the U.S. changed the law regarding marriage green cards for persons who were HIV positive.  Now being HIV positive is not a reason for an Immigration Officer to reject a marriage green card. 

There are certain medical conditions that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia tells the Immigration Officers to be careful with, and it changes all the time.  

The best way to find out what medical conditions are restricted at the current time is to read the I-693 Medical Exam form that is available for free at www.uscis.gov website (click on "forms").  If you read the I-693 Medical Exam form you will see the questions that the doctor asks, and also see the tests the doctor will give to the marriage green card applicant.

Is an HIV test required for the marriage green card?  At the present time, no.  Can the Immigration Officer ask if you are HIV positive?  I suppose they could, but the officers have been clearly advised (since 2010) to disregard any diagnosis of HIV infection when making a decision about a marriage green card.

If the Immigration Officer learns that an applicant for a marriage green card is HIV positive, they are allowed to figure out if the applicant would be a "public charge" to the American society.  According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS"), a public charge is:


"an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense" 
Danielle Nelisse, Immigration Attorney

So for those who are HIV positive and may not yet have medical insurance, the Immigration Officer can ask if you receive means-tested benefits like welfare, Medicaid (health insurance for the poor) or any other public benefits."Means-tested" is when, in order to get the benefits you had to give proof of your income. 


If you are not sure whether the benefits you get (for things like medicine or medical treatment) would jeopardize your marriage green card application, it would be good to ask an Immigration Attorney like Danielle Nelisse. You can either call Danielle at (619) 235-8811 or Email her with your questions.

 Other Immigration Questions Concerning Same Sex Married Couples:

What are the issues if my gay spouse entered the USA as a B-2 Tourist?

Exactly what happens at a marriage green card interview?

How does a person get married in the USA? 

Tips on how to help your helping your partner adjust to America during the Adjustment of Status process.

What if my spouse entered the USA legally, but overstayed their visa?

What if my spouse is HIV positive?

Is "coming out" important to the Immigration Officer who conducts the marriage green card interview?
They may require that you have health insurance in the U.S. in order to prove that you will not become a “public charge,” or dependent upon the government for sustenance. The Immigration Equality organization has been receiving reports of numerous HIV-positive foreign nationals being denied visas on these grounds. They explain that the DOS even “spells out that ‘it may be difficult’ for HIV-positive applicants to overcome a public charge finding.” - See more at: http://www.izquierdomarin.com/applying-for-a-green-card-with-hiv-the-impact-of-the-hiv-ban-lift-on-visa-applications#sthash.R38BUhgR.dpuf
They may require that you have health insurance in the U.S. in order to prove that you will not become a “public charge,” or dependent upon the government for sustenance. The Immigration Equality organization has been receiving reports of numerous HIV-positive foreign nationals being denied visas on these grounds. They explain that the DOS even “spells out that ‘it may be difficult’ for HIV-positive applicants to overcome a public charge finding.” - See more at: http://www.izquierdomarin.com/applying-for-a-green-card-with-hiv-the-impact-of-the-hiv-ban-lift-on-visa-applications#sthash.R38BUhgR.dpuf

Coming Out Important for Marriage Green Card?

It has been interesting to learn how Immigration Officers discuss the topic of "coming out" when conducting the marriage green card interviews for same sex married couples applying for a marriage green card.

Some of the Immigration Officers ask whether spouses have come out with their families and coworkers, and some don't.  From my observations, it seems to depend upon whether the couple appears to be isolated or not.  

For example, the following factors might lead an Immigration Officer to think that a gay or lesbian couple has not told anyone about their marriage:


  • There are very few photos submitted at the marriage green card interview that show family, friends, neighbors or co-workers with the couple;
  • If there are photos on  Facebook with friends, neighbors or co-workers, they are all formal group photos, or were some more casual;
  • There were no witnesses at the marriage ceremony;
  • One or both spouse has not met the others' family; and/or
  • Facebook and other social media pages do not indicate "married."
One lesbian marriage couple that I represented this year at their marriage green card interview were both of Mexican descent, and both very active in the Catholic Church (both in Mexico and America).  

In fact that is how they met - at church. The partner that was requesting a marriage green card had a college degree in religious studies and was seriously considering becoming a nun earlier in her life.  

But, she found love and got married and changed her mind.  Imagine the Immigration Officer's surprise when he (he was Filipino/American) discovered that the only person who knew about their marriage was their Priest! They had not come out to anyone else. 

Their case was approved. 
_______________________________________________________________________________

Danielle Nelisse, Immigration Attorney
Danielle Nelisse can be reached via Email or at (619) 235-8811 during her office hours. Attorney Nelisse represents clients all over the USA.

www.daniellenelisse.com

Other Immigration Questions Concerning Same Sex Married Couples:

What are the issues if my gay spouse entered the USA as a B-2 Tourist?
 
Exactly what happens at a marriage green card interview?

How does a person get married in the USA? 

Tips on how to help your helping your partner adjust to America during the Adjustment of Status process.

What if my spouse entered the USA legally, but overstayed their visa?

What if my spouse is HIV positive?

Is "coming out" important to the Immigration Officer who conducts the marriage green card interview?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Marriage Green Card Interview Different Rules?

It is good to know ahead of time that part of the marriage green card processing involves getting interviewed by an Immigration Officer at your local immigration office.

If you didn't hire an Immigration Attorney to help prepare your adjustment of status application, you may want to consider hiring an Immigration Attorney to go with you both to the marriage green card interview.  

One way to find an attorney experienced with same sex marriage green card interviews is to check the attorney listings on your local  LGBT Business Directory.  Most LGBT business organizations, such as the one I belong to, have added an "immigration attorney" category to help you locate the type of attorneys who specialize in immigration law.

Whether you already have an attorney retained, or you hire one just for the interview, the attorney should either meet you at their office or schedule a long (usually at least 45 minutes) teleconference to discuss what will occur at the marriage green card interview.

Even though the marriage green card interviews are conducted by Immigration Officers all over the USA, they are conducted in the same manner.  It seems all of the Immigration Officers had the exact same training.  They have been carefully instructed to handle same sex marriage green card cases the same way as different sex marriage green card cases.

However, as an attorney who has been present during many interviews, I have noticed some differences in these areas of questioning:
  • Previous marriages to a different sex partner;
  • Bi-sexual history; 
  • Whether each partner has come out yet at work or to family;
  • Unusual financial arrangements;
  • Inability to tell certain (or any) family members about marriage;
  • Traveling by one partner without the other; 
  • Examination of Facebook accounts;
  • Open non-exclusive relationships;
  • Decisions about children;
  • Lack of photographs showing participation in traditional holidays; or,
  • Lack of witnesses at the wedding ceremony.
Danielle Nelisse, Immigration Attorney
A good immigration attorney with a lot of marriage green card interview experience should be able to take a good look at your case (each and every one is different!) and in a caring manner discuss any sensitive areas of questioning before you go to the marriage green card interview.  It is all part of helping your partner adjust to how business is conducted in America.

Our goal is to try our best to predict the areas of questioning you may face so that we feel prepared.  Our goal is success!

Danielle Nelisse can be reached via email at danielle@immigrationworkvisa.com or at (619) 235-8811 during her office hours.

www.daniellenelisse.com