As you have probably already heard, yesterday (Wednesday, June 26, 2013) the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) is unconstitutional, which means that same-sex couples who are legally married in any jurisdiction that permits same-sex marriage can now apply for marriage-based immigration benefits. Accordingly, U.S. Citizens and legal permanent residents can now sponsor their foreign-born spouses for green cards and visas, as long as their marriage is recognized by the state or foreign jurisdiction where they married.
Some also believe that the striking down of DOMA will likely have a positive impact on the passing of the new immigration bill, S. 744. The several attempts to include an amendment to the bill favorable to married homosexual couples were highly contested and considered an impediment to the bill’s passage.
“This discriminatory law denied thousands of legally married same-sex couples many important federal benefits, including immigration benefits,” Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”
At the annual American Immigration Lawyer’s Conference in San Francisco today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas indicated that not only would USCIS comply with Secretary Napolitano’s directive to immediately implement the Supreme Court’s Decision, but that his office has maintained a list of all I-130 applications (U.S. Citizen/LPR sponsorship of a spouse for permanent residency) denied under DOMA, which will be put back into process and approved.
It’s a new era in immigration law – to be further invigorated by the vote on S. 744 scheduled for this afternoon. Stay tuned!
Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP. Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or firstname.lastname@example.org.