Defense of Marriage Act
The Supreme Court, in its decision in United States v. Windsor, invalidated Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). That section of DOMA, which defined "marriage" as a union between a man and woman, had prevented partners in a same-sex marriage from petitioning the Federal government for immigration benefits. Following the Supreme Court's decision in U.S. v. Windsor, same-sex partners are now able to file immigration petitions in the same way as opposite-sex couples.
The invalidation of DOMA affects many aspects of U.S. immigration law. Now same-sex couples can now petition for themselves to be beneficiaries of the violence against women act. This new legislation will also affect fiancé petitions, nonimmigrant waivers, immigrant waivers, cancellation of removal, asylee petitions, consular processing, prosecutorial discretion, stepchild petitions and other immigration petitions.
A statement from the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano reads, "After last week's decision by the Supreme Court holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is not constitutional, the president ordered federal departments to make sure they revisit immigration visa petitions filed by same sex spouses. To that end, effective immediately, I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse."
Please contact O'Neil & Hauser P.C. to discuss the immigration options now available to couples who had been previously barred by DOMA.