Immigration in the News – The Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling

Feb 27, 2015 | Doma

Immigration lawyers in Miami and throughout the United States are paying close attention to a new decision that will be handed down from the U.S. Supreme Court this June. Once and for all, the Supreme Court will decide a historic question about whether the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live, or whether states are free to define (and therefore limit) marriage as a union only between a man and a woman.

Why should I care about this Supreme Court decision?
For starters,  the gay marriage debate reflects the evolving and progressive worldview of Americans. According to the most recent Gallup poll, over 55% of Americans say that same-sex marriages should be recognized as valid.  As a Miami immigration lawyer, and a supporter of LGBT rights, I am in full support of the right of same-sex couples to marry, no matter what state they reside in.

I am in a same-sex marriage. Can my spouse get a green card?
In the case pertaining to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), U.S. v. Windsor, Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the federal government could not refuse to recognize or provide benefits to people in same-sex marriages that were conducted in states where they were legal.

Before DOMA was overturned, the law only provided for couples in marriages to petition for a green card for their foreign spouses. As a result, even if you were married in one of the states that recognize same-sex marriage, you could not sponsor your immigrant spouse for a green card, or bring your immigrant fiancé to the U.S. for purposes of getting married.

After DOMA was struck down, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was ordered by the United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, to start processing marriage petitions by immigrants who were adjusting status based on their marriage (Form I-130) to a spouse of the same sex.

I would strongly suggest that if you are interested in adjusting status based upon a same-sex marriage to a United States Citizen, that you speak with a Miami immigration lawyer to discuss your options.

I am in a same-sex marriage, but I am nervous about my upcoming Green Card interview.
I hear this story quite  a bit from applicants who are in same-sex marriages. Unfortunately, due to lingering stigma of homosexuality and/or same-sex marriages, many same-sex couples lack the abundance of information required to prove that their marriages is bona fide.

For example, it is important for the couple to show that they have joint financial assets. One way to show this would be to submit bank statements that list both spouses’ names.  Some LGBT couples have had good reason to keep their accounts completely separate, and therefore cannot provide this crucial information to the USCIS for review.

Another example of evidence that a couple would submit to the USCIS for proof of a bona fide marriage are pictures of the couple with close friends and family members. Again, this may prove dicey, as not all families are accepting of a same-sex couple’s union. These family members may have chosen not to attend the wedding, or other holidays and special events.

Should you find yourself in this situation, it would be wise to speak with your immigration attorney in Miami  about how best to address this issue. Your Miami immigration lawyer may tell you to provide an short explanation of why your family was absent at the weddings, and/or missing in photos.

From an immigration standpoint, what does the Supreme Court’s decision in June mean for same-sex couples?
Put simply, it means that if you are currently living in one of the 13 states where gay marriage is banned, a favorable decision from the Supreme Court would mean that same-sex marriage would be recognized throughout the United States – regardless of what state you live in. This also means that your same-sex spouse will be eligible to receive immigration benefits – regardless of the state you live in.

Below are the 13 states that currently ban gay marriage:

  • MT
  • ND
  • SD
  • NE
  • TX
  • MO
  • AR
  • LA
  • MI
  • OH
  • KY
  • TN
  • MS
  • AL
  • GA
  • SC

If you think would like more information on immigration benefits for spouses in same-sex marriages, please contact Miami immigration attorney The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A., Esq. at (305)895-2500 or visit our website at www. mmurraylaw.com .