Same-Sex Marriage Immigration

In June 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Section III of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional (Windsor v. U.S. on June 26, 2013). This effectively required federal agencies to recognize same-sex marriages. Shortly after the ruling, President Obama directed all federal departments and agencies, including U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), to implement the ruling swiftly and smoothly. 

In June of 2015, the Supreme Court completed the provision of equal marriage rights for all Americans in Obergefell v. Hodges. The decision recognizes that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right that cannot be denied by the states. The effect of the decision is to legalize same-sex marriage throughout the entire country and to ensure that states recognize each other's licenses as valid.

The repeal of DOMA and Obergefell enabled foreign nationals who are validly married to U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) in any jurisdiction. Family members who were previously barred from applying for family-based visas are now eligible for green cards. 

Any U.S. citizen or LPR who is validly married to a foreign national may sponsor his or her spouse for a family-based visa, regardless of the gender of each partner. General immigration laws and procedures still apply, so while the change in policy does not guarantee that a family-based visa will be granted, same-sex partners cannot be denied a visa on the grounds that their marriage is not recognized.

Every family-based visa filing has its own unique issues.  Please contact us to find out how our immigration lawyers can assist you.

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