As the celebrations of equal marriage continue in New York state, Immigration Equality, the voice of binational couples in the U.S., has some surprising advice for binational couples in New York: don’t do it.
This has in fact been the advice of Immigration Equality ever since same sex marriage rights started to be recognized in states such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont. It is based on the fact that same sex relationships are not recognized in any form at the federal level in the U.S. That means that there are no options for non-Americans to acquire immigration status in the U.S. based upon their same sex relationship to an American. If non-Americans reveal that they are in a same sex marriage to a U.S. immigration officer, that would cause suspicions about their intention to remain in the U.S. indefinitely, which leads to refusal of admission or acceleration of deportation proceedings.
The pain that this causes for binational couples in the U.S. is real: the Immigration Equality website lists case after case of couples living in fear of permanent separation south of the border.
As we begin to celebrate Pride Week in Toronto, it is worth reflecting with pride upon the fact that our immigration laws have recognized same sex couples on an equal basis with opposite sex couples for over a decade, before same sex marriage was even recognized in Canada. Canada remains one of the few nations worldwide that recognizes same sex relationships in its immigration laws.
It is not clear how long the battle will last for full recognition of same sex relationships south of the Canadian border. In the meantime, Canada is proud to be a safe place of refuge for same sex binational couples around the world who are relegated to second class status by their own governments.
Michael will be kicking off the discussion at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Annual Pride Panel Discussion regarding issues and challenges in LGBT immigration and refugee law.
Canadian news has recently been focussed on the fate of a family who filed immigration applications but were rejected due to the health condition of their son, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s. Was this an overreaction or a legitimate concern about the health claims of newcomers on Canada’s universal health care system?
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