The Permanent Partners Immigration Act (PPIA) is an important legislation that has gained support in both the Senate and House of Representatives since its introduction on June 21 by Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Senator Patrick Leahy.
The PPIA would give lesbian and gay USCs and LPRs the right to sponsor their foreign same-sex partners for permanent residency in the same way heterosexual spouses can. It grants couples who are legally barred from marrying but are nevertheless in a "committed, intimate relationship . . . in which both parties intend a lifelong commitment" the same status as legally married people under the INA. In fact, the PPIA would simply insert the words "or permanent partners" after "spouses" in numerous INA provisions.
The bill defines the term "permanent partner" to mean an individual 18 years of age or older who:
- is in a committed, intimate relationship with another individual 18 years of age or older in which both parties intend a lifelong commitment;
- is financially interdependent with that other individual;
- is not married to or in a permanent partnership with anyone other than that other individual;
- is unable to contract with that other individual a marriage cognisable under the INA; and
- is not a first, second, or third degree blood relation of that other individual.
If the bill is signed during the 109th Congress, it will become law next year. This is most significant because the PPIA is a vitally important piece of legislation not only for lesbian and gay Americans who face prolonged separation from their foreign partners, but also for the thousands of undocumented lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) young people who currently have almost no chance of obtaining lawful status in the United States.
Some LGBT immigrants have been subjected to severe abuse and neglect while others face severe persecution in their countries of origin because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Permanent Partners Immigration Act could bring some fairness to the INA as well as ensuring that these young people have some chance of regularizing their immigration status.
BIOGRAPHY: Betty Chu, Esq. is an Associate at Wilner & O'Reilly, a firm specializing in Immigration Law. She is a member of the Los Angeles and Orange County Bar Associations and has been admitted to practice law in the Central and Southern Districts of California. Ms. Chu received her Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from UCLA. She previously served on the American Bar Association's Negotiation Competitions Committee. She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.