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Supreme Court DOMA decision impacts immigration laws

Supreme Court rulings can have a far reaching impact upon individuals living throughout the country, not just those whose case is being reviewed. This is illustrated by one of the decisions rendered last week. The court’s ruling that a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, commonly referred to as DOMA, was unconstitutional was a welcome decision for same-sex couples throughout the nation. The decision means that same-sex couples who were married in states in which such unions are legal are eligible to receive certain federal benefits to which heterosexual couples are entitled. Some of those rights could affect immigration matters as well.

According to Immigration Equality, the recent court decision could make it possible for 36,000 individuals married to someone of the same sex to obtain U.S. citizenship. The Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano confirmed this and praised the decision.

There are two scenarios that will likely transpire as a result of the decision. First, an individual who has a green card and has been married to someone of the same sex for a minimum of three years can seek to become a naturalized citizen. This would be accomplished via an application. Second, individuals who are already citizens can apply for a green card for their same-sex spouses. This could be an exciting development for many since in some cases their spouses may be living in other countries.

As is always the case, it is usually most effective for those dealing with immigration matters to seek the assistance of an immigration lawyer.

Source: Time, “DOMA Ruling’s Impact on Immigration,” Miles Graham, June 27, 2013