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Advisory: Immigration Clients May Benefit from DOMA Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court's Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) ruling, pending an unlikely appeal, will allow same-sex married couples to benefit from a number of immigration provisions currently available to opposite-sex married couples. Prior to the court's June 26, 2013 decision, lawfully married same-sex couples were prevented from conferring immigration benefits on their partners under federal immigration laws. 

Attorneys should be aware that the following benefits may now be available to some clients in same-sex relationships:

  • Follow-to-join benefits for spouses of asylees who are/were legally married at the time asylum was granted;
  • Family-based petitions for clients married to U.S. citizens and permanent residents;
  • One-step petition/adjustment of status to permanent resident for clients married to U.S. citizens who entered the U.S. in a lawful non-immigrant status;
  • Fiancé visas for U.S. citizens intending to marry their same-sex partners who are currently abroad;
  • Prosecutorial discretion for clients in removal proceedings who are in same-sex relationships, regardless of marital status.

You can read the Court’s full decision in U.S. v. Windsor here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-307_6j37.pdf


Volunteer attorneys currently representing pro bono clients with same-sex partners through the Advocates for Human Rights should discuss the potential implications of this decision on their case.  Please contact your consulting attorney or our staff for further information: Sarah Brenes ([email protected] / 612.746.4684) Robert Painter ([email protected] / 612.746.4665) or Deepinder Mayell ([email protected] / 612.746.4673.

As the implications of this unprecedented ruling continue to unfold, the following organizations will likely be developing in-depth practice advisories for practitioners:

Immigration Equality: http://immigrationequality.org/

Immigration Policy Center: http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/litigation/defense-marriage-act-doma-0 

American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (member-only access): http://www.aila.org/issues/issue.aspx?docid=35513 

Legal Action Center: http://www.legalactioncenter.org/litigation/defense-marriage-act-doma-0



Updated July 1, 2013