Today, in a historic ruling, the Supreme Court legalized the constitutional right to marriage for same-sex couples. We celebrate this victory for equality of all people. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, proclaimed:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
What does this decision mean for same-sex married couples seeking immigration benefits? If you live in a state that had outlawed same-sex marriage, you will not longer need to go to another state to get married so you can apply for immigration benefits. Since 2013 when the Supreme Court overruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), couples have been allowed to apply for green cards, immigrant visas, fiance visas, and waivers based on same-sex marriage. Today’s decision broadens equality to all aspects of US immigration law for individuals living in all 50 states.
Same-sex marriage-based green cards must meet all the same requirements as heterosexual marriages for the petition, Form I-130, as well as Form I-485 for Adjustment of Status or for an immigrant visa. Now it will be much easier for couples living in states that previously outlawed same-sex marriage to provide proof of the bona fides, or good faith, of their marriage to USCIS when applying for benefits. These documents could include, but are not limited to, utility bills, bank statements, wills, and health insurance. Although immigration officers should act with sensitivity and not discriminate, you should document, address and report such instances to USCIS.