Immigration Barriers for Same-Sex Couples Removed by DOMA Ruling

July 1, 2013

By Fredrikson’s Immigration Group

We are delighted to report that bi-national same-sex couples no longer have to choose between separation from their spouse or separation from the United States. Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, same-sex couples have been prevented from receiving federal immigration benefits. The limiting definition of marriage as only between a man and a woman found in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is no longer valid, granting same-sex spouses equal benefits.

Marriage plays an important role in immigration law. A legally recognized marriage is required for a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to sponsor his or her spouse for permanent residence, for foreign national couples to receive derivative non-immigrant benefits, or to recognize the parent/step-child relationship.

Traditionally, immigration law has considered a valid marriage to be one that is legally recognized wherever the marriage occurred. Same-sex marriage is now recognized in Washington D.C., twelve U.S. states, and 15 different countries.

If a bi-national same-sex couple has been legally married in one of these locations, the U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or principal beneficiary can now apply for marriage-based immigration benefits on behalf of his or her spouse. We look forward to assisting these couples in obtaining their often long-awaited immigration benefits. For further assistance, please contact an attorney in Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.’s Immigration Group.