CLARITY SPECIAL SECTION
Every individual living in the United States who is not already a citizen is probably wondering what is going to happen. Permanent residents are calling my office asking if they will be able to become citizens in the future. Business investors are calling wondering if they will have to leave or close their businesses in the U.S. Clients from the LGBTQ community want to know if they will be excluded from immigration benefits based on their sexual orientation.
I would like to weigh in on the matter to calm people’s anxiety and fears by asserting that as of right now, LGBTQ individuals can continue seeking the same immigration benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.
Many people are deciding against pursuing any change in status for fear of the new administration, but this is not the time to be scared or to back down. This is the time to forge ahead, and if you are entitled to an immigration benefit not to be scared to seek it.
The LGBTQ community will be able to continue to apply for the following immigration options: K-1 fiancé visas, green cards based on marriages, VAWA Protections for LGBTQ spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, U visas for victims of crime, gay asylum petitions, employment based immigration and immigration waivers. Each of these options confers legal status and can possibly lead to a green card.
The first step people should take when faced with uncertainty about their legal status is to seek out an experienced immigration attorney. Many people mistakenly have a paralegal fill out their paperwork and advise them on what steps to take, but that can be a mistake. It is extremely important to have an experienced immigration attorney who can offer informed advice and guidance.
The LGBTQ community will be able to apply for all of the above immigration options as long as they are able to provide all of the needed information, as well as the required evidence to support the specific claims and immigration options. Many people fear that they will be denied based on their sexual orientation.
Although the LGBTQ community may be affected in other areas of the law, I personally have not seen it in immigration law. All of my LGBTQ clients in recent months have been successful despite their fears. I suggest that those of you who need to obtain visas do so now. Renew any visas that needs renewing and, if eligible, pursue getting a green card.
There are many attorneys in South Florida that offer free consultations. Some organizations also offer free clinics to assist those who have immigration-related questions. Nobody should be discouraged from seeking advice and assistance. Now is the time to act and the one thing that this administration has done is unite those who are willing to stand up and take a stand.
Nicole Alvarez, P.A.
Immigration Lawyer Miami-Dade
Corporate Member of the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce