Same-Sex Spouse Afraid to Attend Consular Interview in Home Country? You Can Choose Another

National Visa Center willing to assist same-sex married couples find a third-country consulate for immigrant visa processing.

Last year's good news for same-sex binational couples, in which the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriage to be recognized as legally valid basis for a green card, did not offer a complete solution to all couples.

In some cases, the immigrant’s only procedural choice as to where to attend the interview at which lawful permanent residence (an immigrant visa) is granted is at an overseas U.S. consulate. And the normal choice of consulate is in the applicant's home country. That can lead to potential safety problems, where that country or its citizens, or even the immigrant’s own family, are known for intolerance or violence toward homosexuals.

Fortunately, the Department of State (DOS) and National Visa Center (NVC) have responded to immigrant advocates who pointed out this problem, with a workaround.

If you’re part of a same-sex couple and will be going through consular processing but are afraid to go through the consulate of the immigrant’s home country, you can, after obtaining USCIS approval of the I-130 visa petition, explain the situation and ask the NVC to assign your case to a different consulate.

(By the way, if the U.S. half of the couple hasn’t filled out the Form I-130 yet, don’t try to implement the workaround at this stage. Yes, there’s a place to name a consulate in Question 22. But if you try designating a consulate other than the one in the immigrant’s home country in that question, you’ll only confuse USCIS and create a delay in processing your case.)

It’s best to give the NVC the choice of three different consular posts. Of course, before naming these three, you’ll want to be pretty sure that the immigrant can successfully obtain travel documents to enter the countries.

A bit of luck will also be involved in this process, because the consulates can, if they’re too busy, simply say “no” to third-country visa cases such as this.

Because this is a new procedure, we highly recommend getting the help of an experienced immigration attorney for help explaining why the immigrant fears going back and in communicating with the NVC.