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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawVisa NewsChanges to Visa Regulations for Same Sex Partners of Diplomats in the US

Changes to Visa Regulations for Same Sex Partners of Diplomats in the US

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests we're discussing same-sex visas, LGBT visas if you want to call it that, but basically visas for primarily same-sex couples, specifically in the context of those who hold diplomatic visas or diplomatic status in the United States; so this may be those working for the UN or those working for a foreign mission in the US.

Quoting directly from newsweek.com.  The article is entitled get Married or Leave the Country: Donald Trump Ends Visas for Diplomats, LGBT Partners. I thought that the title to this was a little bit misleading and I will get into that here in a minute but that being said, "The Trump Administration is now denying visas to unmarried same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations employees or ordering those already in the US to either get married by the end of the year or leave the country". To stop quoting there for a moment. It should be noted "denying visas to unmarried same-sex domestic partners". Continuing to quote here, "The US Mission to the UN has reportedly explained the moves in an effort to update its International Visa practices to reflect current US policy." Quoting further "Since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015, US policy has dictated that diplomatic Visas only be available for married spouses."

What is going on here? Well in the past we had this basically kind of grey area with respect to diplomats and the spouses of diplomats, domestic partners of diplomats because the United States did not recognize same-sex marriages in a legal context although there were other jurisdictions that we had diplomatic relations with that did perhaps recognize some form of marital relationship or marital type relationship; civil unions for example, domestic partnerships or just straight same-sex marriage. These other jurisdictions, basically the State Department basically made an accommodation. In fact I believe most of this happened under Hilary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State and was quite a laudable endeavor. She basically just unilaterally said, “Look, the same sex partners of those who are on diplomatic status in the United States and for that matter, same-sex partners of American Personnel abroad would be granted visas etc. as if they were married for lack of a better term. Well then the law actually changed. The Supreme Court went ahead and ruled that same-sex marriage was illegal and now it is legal in the United States and as a result, it is no issue to have visas for the spouse of a diplomat in the United States. But here is where the law had this kind on sort of; it had to play catch-up maybe if you will. The old rules stipulated unmarried domestic partners might be able to get a Visa. What they are basically doing is just amending that to say No, that is no longer the case. Only those of same sex or different sex partners who are married can get diplomatic status and frankly in my opinion I think this only goes to regularize from a legal standpoint just the status that these folks all have now so while it is not possible for say the girlfriend or boyfriend if you will, in a different sex relationship to get a diplomatic dependent derivative visa to the United States, it was possible in this sort of interim period, for the boyfriend or girlfriend in a same sex capacity to go ahead and get a derivative dependent visa notwithstanding the fact that they were not actually married and get a derivative dependent Visa notwithstanding the fact that they weren't actually married. Basically the law has just sort of caught up and basically the Administration has gone ahead and said look everybody needs to be married now in order to go ahead and get a derivative dependent visa in the USA.

Now what is interesting is that Newsweek who I don't believe are particularly fans of Donald Trump and I'm not going to get political in this, but they make it sound like this is sort of the end for these folks. It is not. As noted in the article, and I urge those who are interested in this to go and read it, basically there is a time frame that is given for these folks to go ahead and get married. Well if they are in the United States they can marry in any jurisdiction in the United States and then basically take that documentation to the relevant authorities to go ahead and have a visa extension or whatever go ahead and issued.

So while I don't think it is fair to say that this is some great travesty, it is a change with respect to derivative dependent visas for diplomats in the United States and in my opinion is one that goes ahead and reflects the legal equality of marriage for those of any sex which currently prevails in the United States.