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Appendix A: The Uniting American Families Act

The Uniting American Families Act, H.R. 4006 (UAFA, formerly known as the Permanent Partners Immigration Act or PPIA) would, if passed, let U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents in binational same-sex relationships sponsor their foreign-born partners for immigration to the U.S.

As the PPIA, the bill was first introduced in February 2000 by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). It gained fifty-nine cosponsors in its first year in the House of Representatives. In 2003, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) brought companion legislation before the Senate. “Our immigration laws treat gays and lesbians in committed relationships as second-class citizens, and that needs to change,” said Leahy.  “This bill would add America to the growing list of nations that extend immigration benefits to same-sex couples.  It is the right thing to do.”  

The UAFA was introduced in the current (109th) Congress on June 21, 2005. It has 104 cosponsors from both houses.

The UAFA would fulfill the promise of family unification in the U.S. immigration system by extending eligibility to the foreign-born partners of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.  It would add the term “permanent partner” to sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) where “spouse” now appears.  Thus, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident could sponsor their permanent partner for immigration to the country, just as they can now sponsor such family members as siblings, children, or husbands and wives. One would qualify as the permanent partner of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident if, among other things, one is:

  • At least eighteen years of age;
  • In an intimate relationship with the sponsoring adult U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, in which both parties intend a lifelong commitment;
  • Financially interdependent with that person;
  • Not married or in a permanent partnership with anyone other than that person; and
  • Unable to contract with that person a marriage that is recognized under the INA.

A permanent partnership is not marriage and would not affect the federal definition of marriage. A successful application would confer no benefits other than immigration status for the foreign national.

Because all binational lesbian and gay relationships would be subject to the same scrutiny that eligible heterosexual relationships currently face, the UAFA would not increase the possibility for immigration fraud through fake “partnerships.”  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will apply the same standards that it applies to marriages in determining whether a permanent partnership is genuine. Permanent partners, like married couples, would be required to prove emotional and financial commitment through (for instance) jointly owned property; shared child custody; joint bank accounts; joint credit cards; shared insurance policies; evidence of a commitment ceremony; or photographs of shared vacations and holidays with extended family. Applicants for permanent partnership benefits would face the same rigorous “green card” interview as married couples. If the interviewer suspects fraud, the partners would be subject to a second, still more rigorous interview in which they are questioned separately to determine whether the answers are consistent.

Moreover, as with any family-based petition, the sponsor must submit an Affidavit of Support on behalf of the partner. The Affidavit of Support is a binding contract that lets the government sue if the immigrant accesses means-based benefits before working for a set period of time, generally ten years, or becoming a U.S. citizen. Finally, like married couples, partners who have been together for two years or less are only eligible to apply for conditional residence. This requires an additional interview with immigration officials at the end of the two-year conditional status to show that the couple is still together. Conditional residency also deters fraud.

The UAFA would actually decrease marriage fraud by removing the reason for foreign partners of U.S. citizens to enter sham marriages—often exploitative and degrading—so that they can remain with their real partner in this country.  It would discourage unlawful presence, and let people live open, honest lives.  For otherwise law-abiding LGBT people running out of legal options, their relationships would no longer lead to choices no one should have to make.

Supporters of the UAFA include:

  • Immigration Equality
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Amnesty International
  • Human Rights Campaign
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • National Immigration Forum
  • Legal Momentum
  • National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium
  • People for the American Way

A list of current Congressional cosponsors (and the dates of their sponsorship) of the UAFA follows.


Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1] - 6/21/2005

Rep Allen, Thomas H. [ME-1] - 6/21/2005

Rep Andrews, Robert E. [NJ-1] - 6/21/2005

Rep Baird, Brian [WA-3] - 7/26/2005

Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] - 6/21/2005

Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] - 6/21/2005

Rep Berman, Howard L. [CA-28] - 6/21/2005

Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] - 6/29/2005

Rep Brown, Corrine [FL-3] - 6/21/2005

Rep Brown, Sherrod [OH-13] - 6/21/2005

Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] - 6/21/2005

Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] - 6/21/2005

Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] - 6/29/2005

Rep Crowley, Joseph [NY-7] - 6/21/2005

Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] - 9/28/2005

Rep DeGette, Diana [CO-1] - 7/26/2005

Rep Delahunt, William D. [MA-10] - 6/21/2005

Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. [CT-3] - 6/29/2005

Rep Doyle, Michael F. [PA-14] - 2/8/2006

Rep Emanuel, Rahm [IL-5] - 7/26/2005

Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17] - 6/21/2005

Rep Eshoo, Anna G. [CA-14] - 6/21/2005

Rep Farr, Sam [CA-17] - 6/21/2005

Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2] - 11/10/2005

Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] - 6/21/2005

Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] - 6/21/2005

Rep Gonzalez, Charles A. [TX-20] - 6/21/2005

Rep Green, Al [TX-9] - 3/8/2006

Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] - 9/28/2005

Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. [IL-4] - 6/21/2005

Rep Harman, Jane [CA-36] - 6/21/2005

Rep Hastings, Alcee L. [FL-23] - 7/26/2005

Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] - 6/29/2005

Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] - 6/21/2005

Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15] - 6/21/2005

Rep Hoyer, Steny H. [MD-5] - 12/22/2005

Rep Inslee, Jay [WA-1] - 6/21/2005

Rep Jackson, Jesse L., Jr. [IL-2] - 7/28/2005

Rep Jones, Stephanie Tubbs [OH-11] - 6/21/2005

Rep Kennedy, Patrick J. [RI-1] - 9/28/2005

Rep Kolbe, Jim [AZ-8] - 6/21/2005

Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10] - 6/21/2005

Rep Langevin, James R. [RI-2] - 7/26/2005

Rep Lantos, Tom [CA-12] - 6/21/2005

Rep Larson, John B. [CT-1] - 7/26/2005

Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] - 6/21/2005

Rep Levin, Sander M. [MI-12] - 6/29/2005

Rep Lewis, John [GA-5] – 6/21/2005

Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] - 7/26/2005

Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18] - 6/21/2005

Rep Markey, Edward J. [MA-7] - 7/26/2005

Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] - 11/18/2005

Rep McCarthy, Carolyn [NY-4] - 11/18/2005

Rep McCollum, Betty [MN-4] - 11/3/2005

Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] - 6/21/2005

Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] - 2/8/2006

Rep McNulty, Michael R. [NY-21] - 6/21/2005

Rep Meek, Kendrick B. [FL-17] - 6/21/2005

Rep Menendez, Robert [NJ-13] - 6/21/2005

Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] - 6/21/2005

Rep Miller, Brad [NC-13] - 9/28/2005

Rep Miller, George [CA-7] - 6/21/2005

Rep Moore, Dennis [KS-3] - 6/21/2005

Rep Moore, Gwen [WI-4] - 12/22/2005

Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] - 6/21/2005

Rep Napolitano, Grace F. [CA-38] - 6/21/2005

Rep Neal, Richard E. [MA-2] - 7/26/2005

Rep Olver, John W. [MA-1] - 6/29/2005

Rep Owens, Major R. [NY-11] - 6/29/2005

Rep Pallone, Frank, Jr. [NJ-6] - 6/21/2005

Rep Pastor, Ed [AZ-4] - 6/21/2005

Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10] - 6/21/2005

Rep Pelosi, Nancy [CA-8] - 7/28/2005

Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] - 6/21/2005

Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9] - 6/21/2005

Rep Sabo, Martin Olav [MN-5] - 6/21/2005

Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39] - 6/21/2005

Rep Sanders, Bernard [VT] - 6/21/2005

Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] - 6/21/2005

Rep Schiff, Adam B. [CA-29] - 6/29/2005

Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] - 6/21/2005

Rep Sherman, Brad [CA-27] - 6/21/2005

Rep Simmons, Rob [CT-2] - 6/21/2005

Rep Smith, Adam [WA-9] - 6/21/2005

Rep Solis, Hilda L. [CA-32] - 6/29/2005

Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] - 6/21/2005

Rep Tierney, John F. [MA-6] - 6/21/2005

Rep Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [FL-20] 11/18/2005

Rep Watson, Diane E. [CA-33] - 7/26/2005

Rep Waxman, Henry A. [CA-30] - 6/21/2005

Rep Weiner, Anthony D. [NY-9] - 6/21/2005

Rep Wexler, Robert [FL-19] - 11/10/2005

Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] - 6/21/2005

Rep Wu, David [OR-1] - 7/26/2005


Sen Boxer, Barbara - 6/21/2005 [CA]

Sen Chafee, Lincoln - 6/21/2005 [RI]

Sen Corzine, Jon S. - 6/21/2005  [NJ]

Sen Dayton, Mark - 6/21/2005  [MN]

Sen Feingold, Russell D. - 6/21/2005 [WI]

Sen Jeffords, James M. - 6/21/2005 [VT]

Sen Kennedy, Edward M. - 6/21/2005 [MA]

Sen Kerry, John F. - 10/31/2005 [MA]

Sen Lautenberg, Frank R. - 6/21/2005 [NJ]

Sen Murray, Patty- 6/21/2005  [WA]

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