HRC Blog

State Department Creates New Visa Program for Same-Sex Partners of Foreign Service Employees

In a cable issued yesterday, the State Department informed its personnel worldwide that it has created a program under which non-citizen same-sex partners of Foreign Service employees can obtain visas to allow them to come to the U.S. when the State Department employee partner receives a domestic assignment.  An employee’s same-sex partner will now be eligible for a J-1 visa, allowing them to live and work in this country under certain conditions.  This development is the latest in a range of benefits extended to the partners of Foreign Service employees by the Obama administration. The State Department’s action is an unfortunate necessity because, under current U.S. immigration law, while American citizens and legal permanent residents can sponsor their spouses and other family members for immigration purposes, they are not permitted to do for their same-sex partners.  As a result, a non-citizen partner must have an independent reason to remain in the country lawfully – such as a work or student visa.  Unfortunately, all too often, binational same-sex couples are left with the heart-wrenching choice between the country they love and the person they love.  That is why HRC supports the Uniting American Families Act, legislation that would end this inhumane treatment of loving, committed same-sex couples. We applaud today’s action by the State Department on behalf of its LGBT employees, but also urge the Administration and Congress to take action to ensure that all binational same-sex couples are treated fairly by our nation’s immigration laws.

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