In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court found section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Since that time, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has treated visa petitions filed by same sex couples the same as those filed by opposite sex couples. This means that same sex spouses or fiancé(e)s can be sponsored by U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents under the family-based immigration visa program (Form I-130).
Sponsors who are engaged to foreign nationals can file Form I-129F which is required to allow a foreign fiancé(e)to enter the U.S. for marriage.
What Does This Mean For Visa Applicants?
The recognition of same sex marriages by USCIS means that eligibility for visa applications will be determined based on applicable immigration law only and cannot be denied due to the same sex nature of the relationship.
There are just two requirements for these applications. Applicants and sponsors must prove that:
- the marriage is a good faith marriage based on love, and
- it is a valid marriage. That is to say that the marriage must be considered valid in the country in which it was held whether that is the United States or a foreign country. Similarly to how USCIS applies all relevant laws to determine validity of opposite sex marriages for immigration purposes, it does the same with same sex marriages.
Additional Benefits Available For Same Sex Spouses
In addition to visa petitions and entry requirements, same sex partners may be eligible for additional immigration benefits. For example,
- A same sex marriage can reduce the residency requirement for naturalization. Typically, naturalization requires 5 years of U.S. residency as a lawful permanent resident before a person can be naturalized. However, under immigration law, naturalization is available to spouses of U.S. citizens after only 3 years of residency so long as you have been living in a marital union during that time.
- Any other immigration benefits that rely on a person’s status as a spouse or the existence of a marriage are available to same sex couples. Examples include: employment-based immigration and aliens who have been granted asylum or assigned refugee status.
File Visa Petitions With Help From Our Orlando Immigration Law Firm
Once you are ready to file your immigration petition, contact The Law Offices of Gail Seeram for help. We offer free consultations to help ensure your filings are accurate and complete to minimize the risk of denial and get your spouse or fiancé approved for entry to the U.S. as soon as possible.