The recent overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by the United States Supreme Court has opened the permanent residency process to individuals of gay and lesbian community. DOMA had previously banned the US Citizenship and Immigration Service from providing federal benefits (i.e. green cards) to same-sex spouses, thus making the traditional green card process virtually impossible to navigate. The Supreme Court's ruling has already resulted in the approval of permanent residency status for a gay couple in Florida and now provides a gateway for thousands of legally married same-sex couples to finally be able to enjoy the benefits of lawful resident status that their heterosexual counterparts have enjoyed for decades.
Of particular importance is the impact of the ruling on all phases of the immigration field, including non-immigrant visas. While the discussion arising from the decision has focused largely upon same-sex couples who are seeking permanent residency status, the repeal of DOMA also provides couples seeking depenedent benefits for all nonimmigrant visas, including E, F, H, J, L, TN and O visas.
Because the permanent residency process is difficult enough without the complications of DOMA ruling, obtaining competent counsel will be critical to ensure that a successful resolution is achieved. The Court's ruling, as well as USCIS' subsequent actions, make both the spousal route and fiance routes to permanent residency available to potential applicants. Feel free to contact the attorneys at Brown Immigration Law to discuss the different options that are available to you.