On June 26, 2013 the United States Supreme Court released its decision holding that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. This decision affects the way that the federal government will handle same sex marriages between US citizens and immigrants. From an immigration standpoint, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will now recognize same sex marriages and issue green cards to married same sex couples. Prior to last week’s decision, DHS and the agencies under its umbrella did not recognize same sex marriages and did not confer permanent resident status to immigrants who were married to their US citizen same sex partners. As of last week, same sex couples either in the US or living abroad, may be eligible to file marriage based immigrant petitions.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano released the following statement on June 26, 2013:
“I applaud today’s Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor holding that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. This discriminatory law denied thousands of legally married same-sex couples many important federal benefits, including immigration benefits. I am pleased the Court agreed with the Administration’s position that DOMA’s restrictions violate the Constitution. Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement today’s decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws.”
Anecdotally, attorney members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association have reported receiving approval notices for same sex immigrant petitions filed prior to the Supreme Court decision last week. These cases were previously pending at USCIS and received approvals within a couple of days after the Supreme Court decision.
The other logical result of Department of Homeland Security’s policy shift is that these benefits would also extend to same sex couples who are in the US on various business visas. For example, a gay immigrant on an H-1B nonimmigrant visa would be able to file an H-4 dependent visa on behalf of his/her spouse.
We are happy to assist you with the filing of your same sex marriage based green card application. Call (404) 593-0434 or use the contact form to email and schedule a consultation with award winning immigration lawyer Rahim Dhanani.