Once the Supreme Court overturned a portion of the Defense of Marriage
Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional in June 2013, this opened the doors for
same-sex married couples to apply for and obtain federal benefits that
were previously reserved only for opposite-sex spouses. These benefits included
family-based immigration benefits. On July 1, 2013, Janet Napolitano (the Secretary of the Homeland
Security) announced that due to the Supreme Court ruling, U.S. Citizenship
and Immigration Services (USCIS) had been ordered to start reviewing
immigration visa petitions for same-sex spouses in the same way it would review visa
petitions for heterosexual spouses, according to USCIS.
In order to help the public better understand the changes that have occurred,
USCIS provided helpful information on its
website about its new visa review policies and about how same-sex married couples
can expect to be affected. Here's an overview of some of the key points
that were explained by the federal agency:
Visas for Spouses: U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can now sponsor their foreign-national,
same-sex spouses through family-based immigration visas. This is done
by filing a Form I-130, along with other relevant application materials.
The same-sex nature of the applicants' marriage will no longer serve
as a basis for denial.
Visas for Fiancées: U.S. citizens can petition for visas to allow their foreign-national,
same-sex fiancées to come to the United States. This is done by
filing a Form I-129F.
State of Residence Doesn't Matter: Even when gay or lesbian spouses live in states that do not recognize
same-sex marriage, they can still petition for family-based immigration
visas as long as they were married in a state in the U.S. or a foreign
country that legally recognizes these types of marriages.
Reconsideration for Previously Denied Petitions: Spouses whose immigration-related petitions were previously denied solely
because they did not qualify under the overturned section of DOMA now
have the chance to have the decisions reconsidered by USCIS. In addition
to providing another review of the petition, the federal agency will also
reopen any other associated applications. Previously denied petitioners
are advised to notify the agency of any petitions that need to be reconsidered.
For petitions that were denied before February 23, 2011, a request for
reconsideration will need to be made by March 31, 2014.
These are just some of the various facts that same-sex married couples
should be aware of concerning their new eligibility for
marriage and fiancée visas. In order to obtain more in-depth information about your
gay marriage immigration matter, do not hesitate to consult with our experienced New Jersey immigration
attorney at The Law Offices of Lloyd E. Bennett, Esq., P.C.
Contact our firm today so that we can help you take advantage of your rights!