Gay immigrant couples could benefit from Supreme Court ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Section 3 of DOMA was a federal law that only recognized marriages between people of different sexes.

Because immigration law is federal, DOMA prevented gay and lesbian couples who were legally married from applying for permanent residency (green card) through marriage. Now that DOMA has been declared unconstitutional, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents could file applications for permanent residency for their same-sex spouse.

Given the Supreme Court's ruling, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should allow same-sex couples to file applications for permanent residency through marriage. USCIS will now be required to file new regulations updating the immigration law code to allow same-sex couples to apply for permanent residency for their foreign spouses.

It will be important to show that marriage between same-sex couples is legal in the state or country where they were married. It will not matter that the couple currently lives in a state where same-sex marriage is not permitted.

In addition, any applicant for permanent residence through marriage will have to demonstrate that the marriage is bona fide and not for immigration benefits.

It is of utmost importance to consult with an immigration attorney before beginning any immigration proceedings.