Immigration Update: Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA!

Today the United States Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman only.  The Defense of Marriage Act prevented legally married United States citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents from, among many other things, sponsoring their same sex husband or wife for immigration benefits.  The Supreme Court’s landmark decision today means that US citizens and LPRs can now petition for immigration benefits for their same sex spouse!

What is the Process?

If you are a US citizen or LPR and wish to sponsor your same sex spouse, the first step is to prepare and file a Petition for Alien Relative on behalf of your spouse with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  Please note that you must be legally married to petition.  You will need to prove that you have a real marriage, and include documentary evidence to demonstrate your real marriage, such as a marriage certificate, wedding photos, evidence that you live together, etc.  There is a $420.00 filing fee that must be submitted along with the Petition.

If Your Spouse is Inside the United States

If your spouse is inside the United States, he or she may file an Application to Adjust Status along with your Petition.  Your spouse must show that he or she was lawfully inspected and admitted to the United States, and is not barred (“inadmissible”) from the United States for any reason, such as a criminal conviction or a prior immigration violation.  If your spouse is barred from the United States, he or she may be eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility.  You can find more information about waivers on our site here.  There is a $1,070.00 filing fee that must be submitted along with the Application.  Your spouse can also file an application for work authorization and a travel document along with the Application to Adjust Status, with no extra filing fees.

If Your Spouse is Outside the United States

If you spouse is outside the United States, he or she will need to immigrant visa process through the Department of State.  Once your Petition is approved, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will forward a copy of the approval notice to the Department of State.  The Department of State will issue “fee bills.”  Your spouse will then pay the filing fee for the immigrant visa application, prepare and file the immigrant visa application, and submit all of the supporting documentation to the National Visa Center.  The National Visa Center will forward your spouse’s application and documentation to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your spouse’s home country, which will process the application.  As with an Application to Adjust Status, your spouse must show that he or she is not barred (“inadmissible”) from the United States for any reason, such as a criminal conviction or a prior immigration violation.  If your spouse is barred from the United States, he or she may be eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility.  You can find more information about waivers on our site here.

What if your spouse is in Deportation Proceedings?

If your spouse is in deportation or removal proceedings, the Supreme Court’s decision means that your spouse may now be eligible for relief from deportation, such as adjustment of status, or cancellation of removal.  More information about relief from deportation can be found on our website here.

Conclusion

The Court’s landmark decision is exciting news for many same sex couples.  If you are interested in finding out how this decision may help you or your spouse, please call our office today for a free case evaluation at 1-866-697-1832.