Immigration Law for the LGBT Community: Know Your Rights!
Since the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) now allows those in same-sex marriages between U.S. citizens or green card holders, the same rights as everyone else.
U.S. Immigration and nationality law expert Caro Kinsella has a very clear message for the gay community: "Know your rights." Attorney Kinsella empowers her clients through education and knowledge of the law.
The LGBT community now has immigration rights equal to those granted to heterosexual families. "Whether it is a marriage petition, a citizenship application or someone just wants their fiance to come over, it is an even playing field now for everybody," said Kinsella.
As long as a marriage is valid in the state or country in which the marriage took place, one is able to apply for federal immigration benefits. Referred to as the "celebration law", what is important is where the marriage is performed, not where one resides. Living in a state that does not allow same-sex marriage, does not effect the marriage status and therefore does not impact the immigration benefits now afforded to same-sex couples.
American citizens who are in same-sex relationships with non-citizens now have U.S. caro_legallyimmigration rights equal to heterosexual bi-national couples. Gay and lesbian couples may now petition for spouses green card if they are a lawful resident. Green card holders can petition for their spouse and children, but it is not an immediate process.
Immigration law is very complex and the Internet is full of misleading information. Therefore, Attorney Kinsella encourages those seeking immigration advice to find a viable source that offers accurate and current advice. As the laws change, so do the circumstances for immigration procedures. Things such as criminal records and the way one entered the country can dictate the direction in which to proceed.
For those coming to the U.S. on a work visa, they now have the opportunity for their spouse to also receive a visa. "The idea is to keep families together," said Kinsella. Even those in the U.S. under an unlawful presence are able to get that status waived in cases of marriage. "You don’t have to be in a legal state to get your green card." said Kinsella.
Attorney Kinsella offers a 30-minute free comprehensive consultation to the LGBT community. These free telephone consulations are available for most cases, while low cost consultations are available for the more complex LGBT family immigration cases. The attorney obtains an overview of each case prior to the consultation, to assess that particular situation. In that consultation, Kinsella explains the law, how it pertains to that case and provides a timeline of how long one can expect these procedures to take. Each situation is unique; even the slightest difference in a situation can totally effect and change the required approach and subsequent timeline.
"My strength as an attorney is that I am able to convey things in laymen’s terms, break it down and simplify," said Kinsella. Struggling against client’s preconceptions that developed from misinformation, self-comparison and misdiagnosis, Kinsella uses solid facts and knowledge of legal procedures to ensure her client’s that she will fight for their rights.
Often, Attorney Kinsella deals with clients who have been struggling on their own for years, without seeking an immigration attorney’s assistance. Even those who know or think they know the law, may not know the best way to go about processing a petition or expediting matters. What one may think is relatively harmless in a petition could be the difference between getting approved or denied. For the LGBT community, Kinsella offers payment plans and tries to work with clients, so that the legal service fees are feasible.
Many illegal aliens want to become citizens. They want a better life, and embrace the American culture. In Kinsella’s experience most are law-abiding. According to Kinsella, approximately 90% of illegal aliens she has come in contact with file taxes, if they have social security number and are working. "Even if working unlawfully, they files their taxes," said Kinsella.
Know Your Rights!
Attorney Kinsella urges education in immigration matters. The most frequently asked question she receives is, "Am I eligible for immigration relief?" Those inquiring are often very reluctant and scared of unknown consequences, that are often based on inaccurate information. Most are surprised to hear they are eligible and eager to hear what is required to gain immigration benefits and rights.
"The main reason I offer the free marriage petition consultations to the community is because, for years that our rights were stolen from us. We didn’t didn’t have the same immigration rights as heterosexuals, and now that we do, I feel the entire community should be informed and therefore able to exercise their rights," said Kinsella. Among the gay community, immigration rights were denied for many lifetimes, but now people are empowered and given opportunities previously denied. Kinsella feels many are still in the dark about their rights and it is her duty to inform and educate the LGBT community.
"In terms of immigration, know your rights and get information from a legal source," said Kinsella, an Irish woman who has gone through the process herself. Passionate about equality and personally connecting with clients, Kinsella cares about her clients and the outcome of their immigration status.
For those seeking answers to immigration questions related to eligibility, procedures, status, safe travel... seek legal advice.
If you’d like to speak with Attorney Kinsella about your questions visit her websites: gayimmigration.guru or CKlawusa.com. Keep up to date with the latest changes in immigration law by visiting Kinsella on social media at Google+, Facebook, and Blogspot