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Changes made to handling of same-sex spouse visa applications

Earlier this summer we wrote about the impact the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act was poised to have on the immigration system. In this post we provide an update on the topic that could be relevant to individuals in South Florida. Last month, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services indicated that visa applications submitted by same-sex spouses would be treated in the same manner as all others. More recently those changes were extended to U.S. embassies and consulates as well.

Late last week, Secretary of State John Kerry, announced that the visa applications of same sex married couples, will be handled the same way as those of heterosexual married couples. To qualify, couples must have been married in a jurisdiction where the union is recognized as being legal. Currently, a total of 15 countries in the world have legalized or recognize same-sex marriages.

There are two ways in which the policy change is expected to affect individuals married to someone of the same sex. First, Americans who are now living in another country with their same-sex spouse now have a path to take to bring their significant other to the U.S. Also, it is now possible for a same-sex spouse of a non citizen who is planning to come to the U.S., for either travel or work on a visa, to apply to also make the trip.

As is the case with anyone seeking to obtain a visa for a spouse, the assistance of an immigration attorney is usually beneficial. This is due to many factors including the complexity of immigration laws and the frequency in which they change.

Source: Reuters, “U.S. says visas from gay spouses will get equal treatment,” Lesley Wroughton and Susan Heavey, Aug. 2, 2013