On June 26th, 2013, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in United States v. Windsor, also known as the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) case. In its decision, the Supreme Court held that the federal law’s provision that limited the federal definition of “marriage” as only between one man and one woman was unconstitutional. This paves the way for over one thousand federal benefits to be bestowed upon same-sex couples who are legally married.
As the immigration laws in the U.S. are controlled by the federal government, this ruling also affects same-sex couples in the immigration context. Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees all immigration applications in the U.S., stated, “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.” In other words, same-sex partners of U.S. Citizens will be able to apply for green cards based on their marriage, just as heterosexual couples currently do. In addition, in immigration removal proceedings, certain applications for relief that rely on a showing of hardship to the U.S. Citizen spouse will also be open to same-sex couples. There are multiple avenues that are now open to same-sex couples, and you should be sure to consult with an immigration attorney prior to filing applications for immigration benefits.
We have been watching this issue as it has progressed through the courts. We applaud the Supreme Court’s decision, as it has opened the door for thousands of same-sex couples to seek the right to obtain immigration status in the U.S. We are ready to speak with individuals who may have questions regarding how the Supreme Court’s ruling could affect their particular situation. If you are in a same-sex relationship and would like to discuss your immigration situation, please give us a call at 1-888-233-7002 and we will gladly discuss your case with you and see if we will be able to help.