Immigration Benefits for Same-Sex Couples
In July 2013 in United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court ruled denial of federal benefits to same sex married couples that are afforded to married couples of the opposite sex is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court held that restricting U.S. federal interpretation of “marriage” and “spouse” to apply only to opposite sex married couples is unconstitutional. President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor is implemented to ensure that same sex legally married couples get the same federal benefits as opposite sex married couples.
What does this mean for immigration benefits to same sex married couples? USCIS now reviews immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of same sex spouses in the same way as it reviews visa petitions filed on behalf of opposite sex spouses. Same sex marriages are now treated exactly the same as opposite sex marriages for immigration law.
If you are a U.S. citizen or a U.S. lawful permanent resident in a same sex marriage to a citizen of another country, you can now sponsor your spouse for an immigrant visa. Your family petition or adjustment of status application will be determined according to the immigration law and will not be denied because you are married to someone of the same sex. If you are a U.S. citizen, you may file a petition for a fiancé visa if you are engaged to marry a citizen of another country of the same sex. If your petition for a family member or a fiancé was denied because you are in a same sex relationship, USCIS will reopen petitions that were denied.
What if you live in a state that does not recognize same sex marriage? USCIS will recognize your marriage as long as you were married to your spouse in a state or a country that recognizes same sex marriage. The fact that you live in a state that does not recognize same sex marriage does not matter.
My office handled family petitions on behalf of same sex married couples. I encourage you to contact my office if you are married to a person of the same sex who is from a foreign country or if you are engaged to marry a person of the same sex from a foreign country.