October 5, 2013, marked 100 days after the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decided that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional! This opened the door for American citizens to petition the U.S. government for immigration benefits for their foreign national, same-sex spouses and fiancés. In honor of this milestone, we take a look at how the SCOTUS decision has impacted the lives of same-sex, binational couples.
We are very happy to report that some of the swiftest action in implementation of the decision has come from immigration agencies! In July, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) posted a new webpage which confirmed the USCIS will process family-based immigrant visas and fiancé nonimmigrant visas for same-sex couples in the same manner as for different-sex couples. Additionally, the USCIS stated it would reopen petitions or applications which were formerly denied solely based on DOMA section 3 and reconsider their prior decisions. Given our experiences, USCIS has done and continues to do what it promised in July.
Moreover, in Matter of Zeleniak, the Board of Immigration Appeals confirmed that bi-national, same-sex couples are entitled to numerous immigration benefits as a result of the DOMA decision. The Board affirmed that the validity of a marriage will be based on the laws of the state or country where the marriage took place and not the laws of the state or country where the couple reside. If you have hesitated to begin the immigration process for your spouse because of this issue, this Board’s decision should alleviate your concern.
Although federal government officials cannot say how many binational, same-sex couples have received their green cards in the past 100 days, Immigrant Equality, an LGBT immigration rights advocacy group, reports that the processes for issuing family-based immigrant visas and fiancé visas are proceeding swiftly and smoothly for same-sex couples. This mean that approximately 32,000 binational, same-sex couples can now live together in the U.S. without a fear of deportation. It also means that many couples who opted to live outside of the U.S. because of DOMA, may now apply for immigration benefits and return to the U.S. While living abroad may sound romantic or exotic, the reality is these individuals gave up well-paying jobs, faced a higher cost of living, and left behind family and friends. NBC News has reported that over the past 100 days many exiled couples have joyously fled their lives abroad to begin rebuilding their lives in the U.S. Welcome home!
As you can see, the news for LGBT couples seeking immigration benefits is extremely positive. If you and your partner need a knowledgeable immigration attorney to assist you through the application process for a family-based immigrant visa or a fiancé visa, contact us or give us a call at 720.414.2027.
#marriageequality #bi-national #DOMA #samesexmarriage #immigrationlaw #immigrationlawyer #GLBTI #LGBTI