With DOMA’s Repeal, Same-Sex Couples Have Access to Additional Immigration Benefits

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The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, allows U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, to recognize that a same-sex marriage between a citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident and a noncitizen valid in the state where it was celebrated is sufficient to confer immigration benefits. Under DOMA, federal agencies such as USCIS were required to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, preventing same-sex couples from accessing more than 1,000 federal programs and benefits available to opposite-sex couples.

In an earlier column, we detailed how the Court’s historic ruling would aid lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents, or LPRs, in obtaining immigration visas for their spouses and preventing the separation of their families. While sponsorship for immigration visas is an important benefit and is critical for preserving family unity, it is not the only federal benefit to which LGBT binational families now have access. Other key immigration benefits now available to LGBT binational couples include sponsorship of a spouse’s children and protection of domestic violence survivors from deportation, among others. We detail these newfound protections and benefits below.

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