Many people have wondered, now that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been held unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court, can a same sex married couple be eligible for immigration benefits, those that were previously accorded only to traditional couples?
The short answer is YES. The victory for same sex couples in United States v. Windsor argued before the U.S. Supreme Court means that all same sex married couples deserve equal legal respect and treatment from the federal government that traditional couples have always enjoyed.
Before DOMA was deemed unconstitutional, same-sex married couples were not allowed to file for any kind of immigration benefit. This meant that same-sex couples had to live between two countries or wait until a legislation recognizing their relationship is passed. This constituted discrimination of the same-sex couples since they could not obtain any immigration benefits that were accorded to traditional couples.
Now that DOMA has been overturned things have changed for same-sex couples. Because of the Full Faith and Credit Clause (Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution), each state must recognize legislative acts, public records, and judicial decisions of the other states within the entire United States America. President Obama has directed federal departments to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly.
Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security has stated: “effective immediately, I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”
Accordingly, many Federal Courts across the nation now must recognize the right of same-sex couples, even if their own states don’t necessarily permit same-sex marriages. To find out more about immigration benefits accorded to same-sex couples in immigration, please feel free to contact Murat Berdyev, Esq., a New Jersey Immigration Attorney at (732) 596-1235.