US Supreme Court DOMA Ruling: Same-Sex Couples May Now be Eligible For Immigration Benefits

In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court of the United States has declared that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, is unconstitutional. This section of DOMA prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage thereby preventing these couples from gaining critical federal benefits, including in the context of immigration benefits.

Background

DOMA allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage. Section 3 DOMA had amended the Dictionary Act to define “marriage” and “spouse” as excluding same-sex partners, thereby barring same-sex partners, who were otherwise lawfully married under relevant state laws, from seeking numerous federal benefits available to married couples.

The Supreme Court of United States has now held that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, as it is a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment. The court has observed that by history and tradition the definition and regulation of marriage has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States, and DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government.

Immigration Consequences

As a consequence of this ruling, same-sex partners should now be able to avail immigration benefits on par with other married couples, including the ability to file immigrant petitions and seek status as immediate relatives and dependents of U.S. citizens. Welcoming the decision, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, announced that DHS will immediately begin to work with other federal departments including the Department of Justice to implement the decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of immigration laws.

We at VisaPro are closely monitoring the developments and will keep our readers informed as more information becomes available in this matter.

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