On Monday, the Trump administration began denying visas to same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations employees, requiring those already in the U.S. to either marry or leave the country by the end of the year.
According to Foreign Policy, the administration has argued that the rule would update its international visa standards with standards from the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the U.S.
But the rule creates difficulties for those diplomats from countries where same-sex marriage is still illegal. The majority of countries in the U.N. do not allow same-sex marriage, and some countries that criminalize it could prosecute those couples who do marry abroad upon their return.
The U.S. mission to the U.N. sent out a memo explaining the new policy in July. In the memo, the administration explained it was reversing the 2009 decision by Hillary Clinton to grant visas to domestic partners of U.S. and foreign diplomats because that decision did not grant the same right to opposite-sex domestic partners.
“Same-sex spouses of U.S. diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses,” the memo said. “Consistent with [State] Department policy, partners accompanying members of permanent missions or seeking to join the same must generally be married in order to be eligible” for a diplomatic visa.
Under the new rules, foreign domestic partners of diplomats and other U.N. officials must show proof of marriage by Dec. 31 or leave the country within 30 days, according to Foreign Policy. Those still living abroad but with pending posts to the U.S. cannot enter with a diplomatic visa without that proof.
According to Foreign Policy, there are at least 10 U.N. employees who would need to get married by the end of the year to keep their partners’ visas.