June 26, 2013. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a
provision of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), that has
prevented legally married same-sex couples from receiving a range of tax,
health and retirement benefits that are generally available to married people. After
hearing another case on the same day the court cleared the way for same-sex
marriages in California to resume. The court held that the petitioners lacked standing
to appeal the district court’s decision which declared unconstitutional to an amendment
of the Constitution of California, the amendment was adopted through a ballot
measure, popularly know as proposition 8 which defines marriage as a union
between a man and a woman.
Aftermath of those decisions, it is most likely that
the same sex couples might have standing for more federal benefits including
immigration and a visa to a same sex couples. The same same sex couples who are
legally married may be entitled to a dependent visa as well as the right to
file a Relative Petition. Immigrant advocates said the impact will be huge for
the estimated 30,000 bi-national couples in the U.S (Soure: Daily News).
While the Supreme Court’s decision will have
immediate effects, however it will take time for USCIS and Department of State
to implement this change. Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Janet Napolitano
issued a statement on the the ruling of the Supreme Court. Secretary Napolitano
applauded the decision holding a provision of DOMA as unconstitutional. She announced
that the DHS will work with federal partners, including the Department of
Justice, to ensure immigration benefits for same-sex couples. At the sidelines
of a conference of immigration lawyers, USCIS Director Alejandro indicated that
since February 2011, when the Administration opined on the unconstitutionality
of DOMA, USCIS has kept a list of all I-130 petitions filed by same-sex bi-national
couples that were denied, and is now prepared to act accordingly.
We will update our clients as these changes are implemented.
In the meantime, if you or somebody you know has additional questions about
possible changes please contact our office for further detail.