Immigrating to the United States or facing immigration proceedings within the United States can be daunting, and even more so if you identify as part of the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, or queer- and if you identify with one of these groups, there are a few things that you should be aware of about the U.S. immigration system.

Filing Petitions

On June 26, 2013, in the seminal case on marriage equality, the Supreme Court found section three of the Defense Marriage Act unconstitutional, resulting in the federal government recognizing same-sex marriages for immigration purposes. This means that if you are in a same-sex marriage, your marriage can now be the basis for the following things:

  • Family-based immigrant visa petition (I-130);
  • Your marriage is a qualifying relationship and can be the basis for a waiver petition (I-601 or I-601a), even if your spouse is not the I-130 petitioner;
  • Your marriage can be a qualifying relationship if you are in removal proceedings;
  • You can file an I-129F, Petition for Fiancé, for your same-sex fiancé.

Asylum for LGBTQ Immigrants

If you have been, or fear that you will be persecuted on account of your sexual orientation or gender identity, then you may be a candidate for asylum. There are many intricacies and nuances to applying for asylum as an LGBTQ individual, so it is essential that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney before filing an asylum petition.

U-Visas, T-Visas, and Domestic Violence

U-Visas- If you have been the victim of a crime, including domestic violence, you may qualify for a U-visa, for victims of crimes. This is true even if the violence was perpetrated against you by your same-sex spouse or partner. If you have been the victim of a crime, be sure to file a police report, and contact a knowledgeable immigration attorney who can evaluate your case for a U-visa.

T-Visas-If you are or have been the victim of trafficking, including human trafficking, sex trafficking, and forced labor, you may qualify for a T-visa. Please contact a reputable immigration attorney who can evaluate your case and provide you with options.

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)-Despite its name, VAWA covers men and women, in both same-sex and heterosexual relationships. If you have been the victim of domestic violence AND your spouse or parent is or was a lawful permanent resident or a United States citizen, you may qualify for relief under VAWA.


If you are taken into immigration custody, the first order of business is getting released on bond. Some people are statutorily ineligible for bond, but the majority of people are eligible to receive bond. If you do find yourself in detention, there are a few things to be aware of:

  • You have the right to receive your medications, including hormone and HIV medications.
  • Transgender people are often placed with the wrong gender population.
  • Many immigration detention centers are privately run and may not have LGBTQ protocols in place.

To request a bond, you should retain an experienced immigration attorney who can put together a bond application to try and get the lowest bond possible. Additionally, if you have a problem with any of the above concerns your immigration attorney can advocate on your behalf, with your ICE officer, and the detention facility.

If you would like information about immigration benefits for the LGBTQ community, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in same-sex immigration cases. Please feel free to call us at 510-488-1020 to see how we can help!