The Supreme Court recently ruled that The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Prop 8 are unconstitutional. By striking down the federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, this decision could potentially impact the lives of same-sex couples who are seeking to adjust their immigration status.

Hot off the heels of the SCOTUS decision, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, released this statement:

“After last week’s decision by the Supreme Court holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly.  To that end, effective immediately, I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”

The decision in the DOMA case, which gives married gay couples all the federal benefits and rights that straight married couples are entitled to, could mean citizenship for an estimated 36,000 couples, according to Immigration Equality, a gay rights and immigration advocacy group. American citizens and green card holders can submit a petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for an international spouse to receive a green card. Furthermore, a green card holder who has lived in the U.S. and been married to an American for at least three years can apply for naturalization if other conditions are met.

For more information, visit , or email Michael Murray at [email protected].

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