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Immigration Attorneys Explain How Overturning DOMA Affects Same-Sex Couples

In 2003, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. Despite this new law, the state could not provide any federal benefits granted to heterosexual couples because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Such benefits included the right to bring a spouse into the country based on the marriage. Seven same-sex couples from the state decided to challenge the law. Their case eventually led to the Supreme Court decision in 2013, which declared DOMA to be unconstitutional.

Same-sex spouses can now immigrate to the U.S. under the same regulations that allow admittance to opposite-sex husbands and wives.

  • The most commonly known option for same-sex spouses is the permanent resident visa, or “green card.” A foreign national can apply for the visa if his or her spouse is a U.S. citizen.
  • Foreign nationals who are in the country and are not permanent residents can bring spouses depending on their visas. For example, an H-1B holder, who is a non-immigrant worker, can bring their spouses to the United States through the H4 visa category.
  • A foreign citizen who is engaged to a U.S. citizen can apply for K-1 visa to enter a same-sex marriage. The visa-holder can then become a permanent resident due to the marriage.

These rules apply to you and your same-sex spouse even if your marriage was conducted in another state as long as you reside in Massachusetts.

Immigration laws and procedures are continually evolving for same-sex couples. Our immigration attorneys are happy to discuss the options available to you and your spouse. Please contact us immediately to learn more.

Bostonian Legal Group