LGB RPCV NewsLetter -August 2005
Another option beingincreasingly considered by same sex binationalcouples is immigra-tion to one of the six-teen countries that nowrecognize same sex partnerships for immi-gration purposes, par-ticularly Canada.
gay and lesbian foreign nationals mayenter the U.S. through the green cardlottery like anyone else, but a verysmall percentage of applicants havethe luck and patience for this. Theymay also enter the country legally byﬁnding a U.S. employer willing tosponsor them, but such employers arerare and a foreign national generallymust have special skills including afour-year degree inhis or her ﬁeld.Depending onthe circumstances, political asylummay be an optionfor foreign gaysand lesbians. Asy-lum is based on anindividual’s past persecution andwell-grounded fear of future persecu-tion on account of certain character-istics, includingmembership ina social group. In the past decade,asylum in the U.S. has been grantedto hundreds of gays and lesbians persecuted on account of their sexualorientation in many different countriesincluding Cuba, Russian, Mexico,Ghana, El Salvador, and Lebanon, toname a few. However, the asylumseeker faces two big obstacles. First,the individual must enter the country by other means (e.g., tourist visa,sponsorship by an employer). Thesecond obstacle is proving persecu-tion, which requires more than merely proving discrimination (e.g., incarcer-ation, rape, electroshock “therapy”).Another option being increasinglyconsidered by same sex binationalcouples is immigration to one of thesixteen countries that now recognizesame sex partnerships for immigra-tion purposes, particularly Canada.However, this option requires that one partner become a Canadian perma-nent resident and then sponsor theother. In order to become a perma-nent resident, an alien must haveCanadian relatives or prove that he or she is a “skilled worker” or can makesubstantial investment in a Canadian business. The standard for asylum isalso technically the same in Canadaas in the U.S., but has generally beenapplied more generously with regardto gays and lesbians in Canada than inthe U.S.Some gay andlesbian couplesquietly discuss ﬁnd-ing an opposite-sexU.S citizen will-ing to marry a gayor lesbian foreignnational or ﬁnd-ing another samesex couples facingthe same dilemmaand marry eachothers’ partners. Itis impossible toknow how com-mon this practiceis because it requires discretion, butanyone considering such an arrange-ment should beware of the legal andcriminal implications. It is illegal tomarry someone for the sole purposeof conferring immigration beneﬁts. If such a fraud is discovered by the INS,the foreign national will be jailed or deported and deemed permanentlyinadmissible to the U.S. and theAmerican citizen spouse may faceup to a $250,000 ﬁne. Even if thearrangement is undiscovered by theINS, marriage involves many rightsand responsibilities that could haveunintended consequences. Thesedepend on the state you live in, but,for example, the (opposite sex) spousemay be entitled to a big chunk of your estate when you die (regardlessof what your will says), your spousegets to make decisions for you if youare incapacitated, you have a duty tosupport your spouse (even if he or sheruns up huge credit card bills withoutyour approval).This is only a brief description of the legal environment same sex bina-tional couples face and does not takeinto consideration how the law mightapply to any individual’s particular situation. Anyone seriously consid-ering any of these options shouldconsult an attorney experienced inimmigration law. Referrals of GLBT-friendly immigration attorneys (andlots of other useful information) isavailable on the Lesbian & Gay Im-migration Rights Task Force web siteat
www.lgirtf.org Mike Learned, LGB RPCV newslet-ter editor can be reached at
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PO Box 14332San Francisco CA email@example.com://www.lgbrpcv.org
Editor Mike LearnedLayout Kevin H. Souza
The LGB RPCV Newsletter ispublished quarterly by the Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual RPCV Organization,an afﬁliate of the National PeaceCorps Association. We promotePeace Corps ideals and the legal,political and social rights of LGBTpeople throughout the world. Weencourage the submission of articlesor photographs for the newsletter.The right to use or edit materialsremains with the editor. Copyrightremains with the author. Sendsubmissions or inquiries to theabove postal or e-mail address.