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Diplomats’ same sex partners may have to leave the U.S.

| Oct 5, 2018 | Immigration Law

LGBTQ rights remain a hot-button topic almost certain to provoke spirited disagreement. Since a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, same-sex marriages must be granted by each state and each state must recognize same-sex marriages formed in other states, such as California, for example. That ruling, however, does not address the issue of same-sex marriages in other countries.

A recent Trump administration policy will have a significant impact on diplomats and United Nations workers with same-sex domestic partners. The new policy requires the foreign workers to be married in order for their partners to be eligible to obtain diplomatic visas. The stumbling block isn’t the ability to get married in the U.S. but rather the consequences of doing so when the couple returns home.

While same-sex marriage is legal in only a relatively small percentage of the world’s countries, the real danger for diplomats and their spouses when returning home is if their country regards the marriage as a crime. Although the administration points to the move as an update of its international visa practices to be consistent with state department policy, the actual impact may force diplomats to choose between risking criminal prosecution and family separation. The policy is set to take effect within the next few months.

U.S. immigration law and policy is subject to modification with little or no notice. The stakes are high not only for the individual seeking admission or permanent residence status in the U.S. but also for the person’s family members. An immigration lawyer can assist in explaining the rights and responsibilities of those impacted by changing policies.