The Trump administration has ended visas given for the unmarried same-sex partners of United Nations (UN) employees and diplomats. The new policy states that to be eligible for a G-4 visa, the partner of a UN official must provide proof of marriage. Since 2009, the UN has been informed that the Department of State does not issue a G-4 visa for opposite-sex domestic partners. The diplomatic note informs the UN that as of 1 October 2018, same sex domestic partners accompanying or seeking to join newly arrived UN officials must provide proof of marriage to be eligible for a G-4 visa or to seek a change into such status.
Current UN officials with domestic partners have until New Year’s Eve to provide proof of marriage or they will have to leave the United States within 30 days, or to remain in the country seek a change to “non-immigrant status.” To be eligible for a G-4 visa, the spouse of a UN official must not be a member of some other household and must reside regularly in the household of the principal. The new policy is seen as especially problematic for unmarried same-sex couples, as only about 30 countries currently legally recognize same-sex marriage. Akshaya Kumar, deputy United Nations director at Human Rights Watch, criticized the new policy in a recent blog post.
Kumar wrote “Those not yet in the country will need to show they’re married to secure a visa, potentially forcing those living in countries without marriage equality to choose between a posting at UN headquarters or family separation.” In defence of the new visa policy, an unnamed White House official said that it promotes “fairness among all of our diplomats so that all spouses can be recognized as such and receive appropriate privileges and immunities for which they are eligible. In order for opposite sex couples to enjoy the benefits and privileges of a diplomatic spouse, they must be married,” explained the official. “The same is now true for same sex couples.”
The new visa policy comes after the Department of Homeland Security released a proposed rule that allows for denying green cards to immigrants seeking public benefits. The proposed rule would require “all aliens seeking an extension of stay or change of status to demonstrate that they have not received, are not currently receiving, nor are likely to receive, public benefits as defined in the proposed rule. Aliens who seek adjustment of status or a visa, must establish that they are not likely at any time to become a public charge, unless Congress has expressly exempted them from this ground of inadmissibility” noted the summary of the proposed rule.
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