Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Unconstitutional: New Immigration Options for Spouses of Same-Sex Couples
Yesterday, the Supreme Court’s held that DOMA to be unconstitutional. We are waiting to see how various federal agencies implement this important decision.
On the immigration front, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should soon be providing the public with guidance for same-sex couples seeking immigration benefits. The Supreme Court’s decision will have a broad reach, impacting same-sex couples in employment-based immigration cases, family-sponsored green card processes and other immigration proceedings. The definition of a spouse is fundamental to receiving many immigration benefits. Even certain naturalization processes are expedited because of an applicant’s connection to a U.S. citizen spouse. In other cases, being defined as a spouse under our immigration laws may mean that one has eligibility to apply for a work authorization card or a derivative visa. This change is thus more than symbolic; it is about security for same-sex married couples, legal equality and fairness.
We expect more news in the coming weeks as the federal government responds to this major shift in law and policy.