British Woman is 3rd LGBT Immigrant to get Green Card after Supreme Court Overturns DOMA

Following the recent Supreme Court decision to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a handful of gay and lesbian immigrants have been approved for green cards by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Among them is Karin Bogliolo, a 72-year-old immigrant from the U.K. who has been legally married to her wife Judy Rickard since 2011.

Bogliolo is the third immigrant to be granted permanent residency in the U.S. through a legal same-sex marriage following the court’s decision.

“I’m jolly happy,” Bogliolo said during a phone call from her home in San Jose, CA. She told Fi2W she’s glad to be able to finally call the U.S. home after so many years in limbo.

But she saaid she also feels impatient. The couple has been struggling for the past 7 years to find a way for Bogliolo to remain in the country, which put a financial and emotional strain on them.

“I never thought that I would be the victim of such heavy discrimination,” Rickard said by phone. “This particular discrimination took away my career, my ability to be in charge of my life, and cost us a lot of money.”

Both described being in suspended disbelief. The Supreme Court decision seemed to solve their problems instantly, and the quick turnaround of Karin’s green card application was equally surprising. “I feel like I’m waiting for another shoe to drop. Whatever day it is we get that green card in the mail, then we’ll go berserk. I’m guessing that’s when the fireworks will happen,” Rickard said.

Rickard, who wrote Torn Apart a book about their experience in 2010, recently received the Cesar Chavez Champion of Change award from the White House for her LGBT rights and immigration reform activism.

At least 70 other couples are working to get have their green card applications reopened, since their applications were either denied or never acted on because DOMA prohibited the the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

Tom Plummer, an attorney with the LGBT immigration advocacy group Immigration Equality, said last week that USCIS had not provided a timeline for reviewing these previously denied or held applications, and that the average timeline for considering a green card application is between 6 – 9 months. Representatives from USCIS have not yet responded to inquiries about the timeline for considering these applications.

Bogliolo is anxiously watching the mail for her green card to arrive. Even though she received notice that she is now a permanent resident of the U.S., she still can’t leave the country until she has papers in hand. She is anxious to travel to England to be with her daughter who had surgery three weeks ago and is still in recovery. Bogliolo also has 7 grandchildren living in England and Scotland, and she’s been unable to visit them for the past 3 years. Her birthday is next month, and she hopes to spend it with her family.

“My celebration will be to go to England and be with my daughter,” Bogliolo said. “We were this morning talking about what I’d like to do for my birthday, and she said she and I will go to a very fancy restaurant and have a proper English tea. And I’d like to eat English fish and chips.”

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation and the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation.

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AboutVon Diaz
Von Diaz is a writer and radio producer based in New York City. She is a self-taught cook who explores Puerto Rican food, culture, and identity through memoir and multimedia. Her work has been featured on NPR, American Public Media, StoryCorps, WNYC, PRI’s The World, BuzzFeed, Colorlines, and Feet in 2 Worlds. Von has an M.A. in journalism and Latin American and Caribbean studies from New York University. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, she earned a B.A. in Women’s Studies and focused her research on women in Latin America. She is a currently a producer at StoryCorps, and previously worked in community advocacy and communications for nonprofits focused on women, children, art, and Latino culture.