In a historic ruling two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court in struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") as unconstitutional. Here is a quick rundown of what this means for you as a same sex couple and how broadly or narrowly it affects you -
1. DOMA as a whole is not unconstitutional, only Section 3 that defines marriage as between a man and woman for federal purposes. Thus, if you are currently in a state that does not recognize same sex marriage, this ruling has no effect on you or your state.
2. For federal purposes (we will focus on immigration here), if you get married in a state that recognizes same sex marriage, you and your spouse now have access to all federal benefits that are available to married couples. You can now petition to sponsor your non- US citizen spouse for a green card along with his or her dependents.
3. For immigration purposes, your state of residence does not matter, the only factor is that you are married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage or in a country that recognizes it (Canada totally counts!). Since immigration is a federal jurisdiction, you and your spouse will be treated like a married couple and afforded every immigration privilege extended to other married couples.
4. USCIS has been swift in applying new rules based on the US Supreme court's decision. Same sex couples do not have fill out separate forms, or follow different directions - form I-130 is still the applicable form. Additionally, K-1 visas that let you sponsor your same-sex fiancÌ© are also an option.
5. It is imperative to note that immigration in general is long, meticulous, and sometimes tedious process. Every step of an application is scrutinized and checked for errors. Whether applying as a same sex couple, or otherwise, seeking additional legal counsel may assist some families in submitting error-free and appropriate documentation.
As always, the team at LexSpot is ready to connect you with top immigration attorneys around the country, who can help you with any questions you may have about sponsoring your same sex spouse or dependent family members. Take a look at our new eligibility work-flow for the best option available to you and your family members with the new DOMA victory in hand.